Rally halts sex trade
Nob Hill was quiet over the weekend after neighbours protested on Friday
Martha Tropea , Daily NewsPublished: Monday, November 19, 2007
Residents hope prostitutes and johns received the message that they are not welcome in Nob Hill.
On Friday, about 125 people from the Nanaimo neighbourhood banded together to protest the recent surge in illegal sex and drugs that have infiltrated the close community in recent months.
Armed with signs and determined voices, they marched along Selby Street and Victoria Road, bringing traffic to a halt.
The rally seems to have made a difference, if only for a short time.
"The last couple nights, there were no girls on the corner," said Debra van Dyk.
But just as fast as those words left her lips, her husband spotted a suspicious car stop near their home for a possible drug deal, or to pick up a prostitute.
In the 12 years that she has lived in the area, van Dyk has been propositioned more times than she'd care to remember.
Residents know the solution doesn't hinge on one or more rallies, but rather looking to the civic leaders for affordable housing and help with homelessness and addictions.
Still, she remains hopeful their efforts won't soon be forgotten.
"I just definitely think the message had gotten out, which is what we wanted," van Dyk said.
Now neighbours want to focus their attention on bringing back some lustre to the Nob Hill area, a place van Dyk's husband Lance, believes is one of the prettiest places in Nanaimo.
He sees no reason why the beautification of the Old City Quarter shouldn't extend along Victoria Road and Albert Street.
The Nob Hill Association put together walks on selected days, to ensure neighbours maintain a visible presence on the streets.
Van Dyk said women will continue to approach prostitutes and offer them phone numbers for social service agencies such as Haven House or Samaritan House. Some residents have even gotten together and created a blog (dearjohnnanaimo.blogspot.com) where licence plates and photos of johns will be posted online.
© The Daily News (Nanaimo) 2007