Manitoba unveils $1.5M Downtown Safety Initiative for Winnipeg

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Manitoba unveils $1.5M Downtown Safety Initiative for Winnipeg
A seven-figure cash injection is aiming to help address safety concerns in downtown Winnipeg. Daisy Woelk reports.

The Manitoba government announced a nearly $1.5 million initiative to enhance public safety in downtown Winnipeg, Premier Wab Kinew announced on Tuesday.

“Our team is listening to people and businesses who’ve shared their ideas on how to make Winnipeg’s downtown safer and what approaches they feel are working,” said Kinew.

“This action plan would not be possible without the work of our partners at the city and the groups on the ground who work to make our communities safer. When we work together, we can help ensure Winnipeg’s downtown is a place for everyone to enjoy.”

Manitoba is allocating the money this year and next year to support a comprehensive action plan with key initiatives including:

  • Expanding support for the Downtown Community Safety Partnership (DCSP) to enhance visibility downtown this summer.
  • Increasing funding for mental health training for downtown partners providing mental health and well-being services.
  • Establishing a sobering centre at N’Dinawemak.

“N’Dinawemak is excited to continue to work with the Manitoba government to deliver services that directly respond to the needs of our relatives,” said Frank Parkes, executive director, N’Dinawemak.

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Click to play video: 'Downtown Winnipeg buses to feature new safety officers this week'
Downtown Winnipeg buses to feature new safety officers this week

“Today’s announcement to continue to invest in much needed additional health and mental health resources and supports at N’dinawemak will undoubtably improve relative care and wellbeing at the shelter. We look forward to working with the province in the delivery and facilitation of these additional supports.”

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In addition, the Downtown Community Safety Partnership, has introduced a new integrated system with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) that allows the two organizations to co-ordinate calls through shared radio systems and computer-aided dispatch.

“Ensuring downtown is a safe place for everyone demands the commitment of all levels of government and community partners working together,” said Mayor Scott Gillingham, City of Winnipeg.

“The Downtown BIZ and DCSP have been strong leaders on this file, and I’m pleased to collaborate with the Manitoba government to provide additional patrol resources and support services for people in need. Together, we are taking decisive actions to make our downtown safer and more secure for everyone.”

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The new integrated system will allow the two organizations to communicate on the same radio frequency to dispatch the right response at the right time. This is a first-of-its-kind partnership in Canada between an outreach organization and an emergency service provider. In many circumstances, some community members do not require emergency assistance from the WFPS but should receive other supports.

“We appreciate the important dialogue and collaborative efforts to create a safer and more welcoming downtown,” said Kate Fenske, CEO, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

“We know the results of long-term efforts will take time and we are grateful for the immediate action taken to address the concerns of our downtown businesses community this summer.”

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