Human trafficking set to increase for 2010 Games
One year from now, people from around the world will gather in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
But as the final plans for Thursday's countdown celebrations are ironed out -- some fear Vancouver will be welcoming more than just athletes and fans. There is a concern that human trafficking is set to increase. And one group is taking action.
Major Brian Venables of the Salvation Army opens the door to room 712 of its latest safe house.
"This is one of the rooms; it'll eventually have three beds," he said.
They already provide shelter for recovering addicts, abuse victims and refugees, but these rooms are different. Ten beds on one floor will be reserved for victims of human trafficking.
It's a problem the Salvation Army feels is about to get worse -- when the world arrives next year for the 2010 Games.
"There are young people who are taken advantage of, They're imprisoned, there's no escape for them," Major Venables said. "When you bring the world stage to a city, the demand for sex slaves goes up."
And the vulnerable need a place to hide, he added.
"They're found in hotel rooms and condos, and if the police were to raid one of these trafficking centres, and all of a sudden eight young girls are needing a place to stay we'd have a place for them."
Human trafficking victims aren't necessarily smuggled in from overseas. There is also domestic trafficking -- where people are moved around within Canada -- sometimes from small communities to big cities -- and become trapped in the sex trade.
So far, the RCMP haven't seen any indication trafficking is on the rise. However, it is on their radar.
"We do know that major sporting events exacerbate what's already going on," said Cpl. Norm Massie of the RCMP Border Integrity program.
"Today we are very much prepared, in our opinion. Police officers are better trained in how to detect it but also how to effectively investigate it."
The Salvation Army also wants to be prepared.
"We don't know if we're going to be full. We don't know if 10 beds are enough. We know they're out there," said Venable.
The safe house will be self-contained with medical help, counselling, and legal assistance on site. It should be ready to open in a few months.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Maria Weisgarber.