05/15/2015 01:45 EDT | Updated 05/15/2016 05:59 EDT

Vancouver's Cedar Cottage residents petition for red light district

Residents of Vancouver's Kensington-Cedar Cottage neighbourhood are petitioning the city to crackdown on prostitution in residential areas and establish a red light district for sex trade workers.

Ewart Aitken says in the dozen years he has lived in the East Vancouver neighbourhood — which centred around the intersection of Kingsway and Knight Street —  it has been overrun with drugs, petty crime and prostitution.

"It's getting worse. It's getting a lot worse. And it's happening at quite a fast rate and it's kind of frightening."

The father of two says he's seen everything from needles to human feces on his street, but the biggest problem, he says, is sex trade workers behaving aggressively near local schools.

"My kids and I were approached on 22nd [Avenue] by one asking us to call her a cab. She was clearly strung out and she was freaking my daughter out. I want to feel safe in my community and that day I did not feel safe."

Aitken says residents have worked to improve the neighbourhood, but now they want the city to step in and help.

"We're asking that the city ... create some sort of red light district where the sex trade workers can go somewhere and be safe and basically that sex trade is taken out of the residential neighbourhoods — not just our neighbourhood, all neighbourhoods — and put them in a place that's safe, where they have access to police and street nurses."

It's not clear where he wants the red light district located, but Aitken says organizers hope to meet with city officials in coming weeks. 

Some 237 people have signed the petition so far.