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Winnipeg partnership aims to improve city safety with communications hub, video surveillance system

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WATCH: The Downtown Community Safety Partnership is celebrating one year since it began. Global News reporter Marney Blunt examines what's next for the partnership as it strives to create a safer city centre – Jul 28, 2021

After one year working to heighten safety in Winnipeg’s core and help the vulnerable community downtown, the Downtown Community Safety Partnership (DCSP) now has its sights set on streaming its resources through a communications hub and creating a downtown camera system.

Greg Burnett, the executive director of DCSP, says the next focus is creating a centralized communications hub.

“The next steps we want to get to is building an information communications hub to coordinate all our resources, but also to engage with the community sector, non-profits, (and) all the outreach groups as best as we can in the downtown area here,” Burnett told Global News.

Read more: Downtown Winnipeg safety teams continue to support community one year later

Burnett also says a coordinated video surveillance system is in the works.

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“Now that we’ve got the teams essentially stable, that’s going to be the next phase. We’ve been working on it for the last few months,” Burnett said.

Burnett says he hopes to see the coordinated video surveillance system operating within the next few months.

“We’re going to engage with the community, private sector, businesses, and coordinate a camera system in the downtown with those who want to participate,” he said.

DCSP currently has three mobile outreach teams working on the streets of downtown, connecting the most vulnerable with much-needed resources, social services, and medical assistance, while alleviating pressure off police, paramedics, and other community organizations.

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“The work the folks are doing out there is amazing. From the medical, the social side of things, they’re really helping the vulnerable population out there, but also making those contacts with our businesses, (tourists), and everybody else,” Burnett said.

“We get all sorts of feedback that they’re just happy to see our presence out there.”

Jamil Mahmood, the executive director at Main Street Project, says the DCSP has helped alleviate pressure off their outreach teams, allowing them to shift their focus elsewhere and help people they may not normally reach.

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“It does allow us to focus our outreach time on other parts of the city that are definitely in need,” Mahmood said. “We know that homelessness and the challenge of being on the streets isn’t just a downtown issue, it’s a city-wide issue.

“So having the downtown partnership focused on the downtown area allows us to expand to the other areas of the city,.”

Mahmood says the DCSP’s approach will be beneficial to helping those in need on downtown streets.

“Traditionally, the approach has been moving people out of the downtown or out of the core areas,” Mahmood said. “And their approach has been to work with people where they’re at and connect and that’s (how) Main Street Project (works).

“We work with people where they’re at, we support them, but it’s not about moving them out of an area to accommodate business or something.”

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