The borough of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve wants sex workers on its territory to operate freely on a stretch of Ste-Catherine Street East.

The idea is to create a "zone of tolerance" in a less residential stretch of the street, between Moreau and Alphonse D. Roy streets, where prostitutes could work without police interference.

The borough says a lot of business owners and residents have complained for years about the presence of sex-trade workers on the streets of the city's east end.

It says as many as 75 prostitutes work at all times of the day on Sainte Catherine in its jurisdiction--near homes, schools and businesses – and it creates tensions.

Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Mayor Réal Ménard and five borough councillors unanimously endorsed the proposal. But without approval from city council and an agreement with police to relax enforcement in the zone, the plan can't move forward.

Ménard said the borough officials have already been in contact with police about the proposal.

"What I have requested is two things: move the girls and be more tolerant in this area in a way that moves it out of the residential areas," he said. "I am aware it is a delicate situation for the SPVM and our commander."

However, as soon as the plan became public, the city was quick to condemn it, citing the illegality of prostitution.

"Creating a zone of tolerance is unacceptable as a solution for both the city and police," said Jocelyn-Ann Campbell, the city's head of social development.

The riding's MNA, Carole Poirier, has also voiced her opposition to the idea of a tolerance-zone.

She said more effort should be focused on helping women and men leave the sex trade.

Daniel Durocher, a caterer who works near the proposed tolerance zone, said he doubts simply asking prostitutes to move along will persuade them to move to an industrial area.

"It will always exist," he said. "You're better to legalize it, to control it a little. Make some taxes off it and have brothels."

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  • Germany

    Prostitution is legal in Germany, and brothels are registered businesses that do not require a separate license. In the state of Bavaria, it is mandatory to use condoms. <i>A German prostitute's self-portrait in a brothel, 1999.</i>

  • Netherlands

    In the Netherlands, prostitution is legal, as are brothels. Because of the size of the industry, the government has attempted to scale it back in recent years, and a law has been proposed to ban women under the age of 21 from the business. <i>Red Light Bar in Amsterdam</i> (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/Ben Sutherland</a>)

  • New Zealand

    Thanks to the Prostitution Reform Act 2003, prostitution, owning a brothel and street solicitation are legal in New Zealand, though coercion remains illegal. The law still causes controversy today, with certain parties attempting to overturn it. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/PhillipC</a>)

  • Nevada

    Nevada is the only place in the United States where prostitution is legal, in the form of brothels (though prostitution outside these businesses is illegal). The brothels are located in isolated rural areas, and employees work as independent contractors, therefore not receiving any health or insurance benefits. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/Bludgeoner86</a>)

  • Argentina

    In Argentina, prostitution is legal, but operating a business like a brothel based on the industry is illegal. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/quimpg</a>)

  • France

    Like Argentina, prostitution is legal in France, but associated industries are not. In addition, paying for sex with someone under the age of 18 is illegal. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/idreamofdaylight</a>)

  • Singapore

    In Singapore, prostitution is legal, but activities like brothels and organized prostitution is not. Workers in brothels carry health cards and receive regular check-ups. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/Arian Zwegers</a>)

  • Japan

    In Japan, prostitution is technically illegal, but many have found legal loopholes that allow for certain acts -- specifically, anything outside of coitus. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/loiclemeur</a>)

  • Greece

    Prostitution is legal in Greece, and workers have personal licenses, as well as health cards that are checked often. Brothels, however, are not legal, and <a href="" target="_hplink">have caused many demonstrations</a> within the country. (Photo courtesy of <a href="" target="_hplink">Flickr/DoctorWho</a>)