Toronto
2 min

Hookers in the backyard

Lance Lockwood obsesses over john licence plates

DOES HE OWN THE STREET, TOO? Lance Lockwood - considering a bid for political office - wants the prostitutes out. Credit: Mark Bogdanovic

Lance Lockwood wants prostitutes and their clientele out of his backyard.



“Just the other day,” he alleges, “I found a prostitute and a john having sex at the gate in my garden… I find condoms in my yard all the time.”



Lockwood, a gay man and a member of the Seaton Ontario Berkeley Residents Association (SOBRA), has launched a website that posts the licence plate numbers of clients on the Internet.



“The bottom line,” says Lockwood, “is to send the message that if you want to get laid don’t come to downtown Toronto, don’t come to my area.”



Lockwood says that prostitution has led to increased traffic problems, condom and needle debris, and has attracted violent criminals.



His website, Toronto Roundup (there’s a link to it from http://www.lancelockwood.com), is researched by fellow members of SOBRA called “spotters,” who patrol the area 24 hours a day.



Lockwood claims that since its December launch, there’s been a dramatic decrease in sex trade in the area.



“Ideally prostitutes will find another line of work,” says Lockwood, “but in the short run we just want to send a clear message to johns to stay out of Cabbagetown. There are children all over this neighbourhood.”



Robert Johnson, an AIDS prevention and outreach worker at Maggie’s, the Toronto prostitute’s resource project, disagrees that there has been any drop of activity in Cabbagetown and notes that there’s been no discussion of the website at drop-ins.



“If there is any change, it’s minimal,” says Johnson.



Although Lockwood insists that he’s targeting johns and not hookers, Johnson says that the two are hard to separate.



“What happens when a client base drops is that to make the same amount of money, prostitutes have to become less discriminating about potentially dangerous clients.



“If there is a vigilante coming around the corner,” Johnson says, “she may jump in the car to negotiate instead of doing it on the street where she’s safer.”



Lockwood hopes to enlarge his site and begin posting photographs and video footage, as well as licence plate numbers, a move residents in Parkdale have already taken with a similar website.



So far there has been no legal wrangling over Toronto Roundup, but Lockwood admits that the use of photography may create privacy concerns.



“What about my privacy?” he adds. “If someone is getting a blowjob in my garden where’s my privacy?”



Sex trade activist Kara Gillies says, “These kind of initiatives just drive working girls deeper into residential areas and forces them to work longer hours to put food on the table and clothe their children.



“Residents’ associations are willing to go to extreme measures against prostitutes. They may claim that it’s about the garbage or the noise, but in the end it’s a morality issue.



“It’s about saying, ‘We don’t want people like you in our neighbourhood.’



“In fact,” she adds, “sex trade workers have been a vibrant and active part of Cabbagetown long before SOBRA.”



Lockwood may extend his activism and run for municipal office in November.



“I don’t have an announcement at this time,” he says, “but I haven’t ruled out running either.”



Councillor Pam McConnell, a New Democrat, represents that area.