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2 min

A portrait of increasing clout

1991: The Hintonburg Community Association is established. The association lobbies the city to make developers consult them on new projects. Their lobbying efforts are successful; developers must consult community associations before proceeding. Although it is not mandated, failure to do so will slow down the process (since projects have to be put forward to the public).

Early 1990s: Hintonburg Security Committee is formed to combat drugs and street-level sex work.

1992/1993: The security committee launches an aggressive campaign — that still exists — against street-level sex workers. They develop a sex trade activity report (STAR) for residents to record and ID sex workers and their customers, and an incident report sheet for residents. A neighbourhood watch program is started with financial assistance from the police board.

1995: The Hintonburg Community Association establishes a task force on problem properties. They work with the city and the police to highlight properties allegedly connected with illegal activities and to secure evictions, prosecutions and property seizures.

1996: The security committee approaches the Ottawa Police Service and the Crown Attorney with the idea of a John School (PDF). It is a pre-charge diversionary program for first-time offenders. The johns, instead of being criminally charged, are given an option as long as they have no previous offences — to pay for a course on the consequences of paying for sex.

1997: When the city and the police approve the three-month pilot project for the John School, the project goes citywide.

2000: The needle-pick-up program, started by the security committee, also goes citywide.

2001: The security committee publishes a handbook for residents: Dispelling the Myths: Stories of the Effects of Street-level Prostitution on Communities (PDF).

2005: Jeff Leiper, then-president of the association, and Cheryl Parrott give evidence to a Parliamentary committee reviewing Canada’s solicitation laws. They argue for the retention of the solicitation laws.

2007: The association begins lobbying for Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) legislation (PDF). SCAN’s ostensible target is habitual problem properties; it targets the landlord or property owner and makes them responsible for stopping illegal activities from taking place on the property. But SCAN also lowers the standard of proof necessary before property can be seized or tenants evicted. It is based on anonymous complaints, so defendants can’t cross-examine their accuser. By the time the provincial election campaign wraps, Liberal candidate Yasir Naqvi has taken up the cause. He is elected MPP for Ottawa Centre.

2007: The security committee launches a new program — a community safety letter (PDF).The letter is sent by police, to the residence of any driver stopped for talking to prostitutes.

2009: After two years of gathering research — including tracing police calls under the Freedom of Information Act — on an alleged crack house in Hintonburg, the association takes its findings to the police. The police present the case to the Ministry of the Attorney General. In turn, the Crown uses the Civil Remedies Act to seize the property without laying any charges. It is the second time the Civil Remedies Act has been used since it came into law in 2001.

2009: In December, Cheryl Parrott present to MPPs studying Naqvi’s SCAN legislation at Queen’s Park in Toronto. The bill is blocked by New Democrat Cheri DiNovo.

2010: The association endorses a by-law amendment proposed by councillor Georges Bédard. If passed, it would allow by-law officers to fine boisterous people on the streets and sidewalks. The association members see the law as another tool to keep their neighbourhood safe.