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Build red-light district on Toronto Islands, Mammoliti suggests

Toronto city councillor Georgio Mammoliti gives a thumbs up during a council vote.

Tim Fraser/tim fraser The Globe and Mail

City council's recreation chief gave new meaning to his title Tuesday, renewing his proposal for a red light district in the city. Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti also floated a potential location for such a neighbourhood: the Toronto Islands.

The North York councillor, who is a member of Mayor Rob Ford's executive as chair of the community development and recreation committee, has long advocated legalizing brothels as a way of controlling the sex trade, and said an Ontario court's decision to strike down prostitution laws last September gives the plan fresh urgency.

Mr. Mammoliti argues that, since there are already clandestine brothels in the city, licensing them would allow the city to keep such businesses away from homes and schools, protect sex workers from violence and provide a new source of tax revenue.

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He said the Toronto Islands, which largely consist of parkland, with two residential neighbourhoods and an airport, would be one place to put brothels, as it is physically isolated from the rest of the city, but that other neighbourhoods might also be good candidates.

"We need to figure out an approach," he said. "The dialogue has to happen throughout the whole city - maybe there's an old industrial area where we could do it."

Mr. Mammoliti said the first step is to have city staff prepare a report on the implications of last September's court ruling for council to consider.

Mr. Mammoliti included a red-light district (along the with a floating casino on the harbour) in the platform for his mayoral campaign last year. He abandoned his bid three months before election day.

He said he had not discussed his proposal with the mayor since the election.

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About the Author
Washington correspondent

Adrian Morrow covers U.S. politics from Washington, D.C. Previously he was The Globe's Ontario politics reporter. He's covered news, crime and sports for The Globe since 2010. He won the National Newspaper Award for politics reporting in 2016. More

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