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Winnipeg Launches $1.5M Plan to Combat Crime – Will It Work?

For many, Winnipeg’s downtown has become a place they fear. Addictions, empty buildings, homelessness, crumbling infrastructure, and poverty have caused violence and crime to plague the city’s centre. The city’s core has witnessed escalating violence and crime, evidenced by 13,674 violent Criminal Code violations and 52 homicides in 2022.

To ensure economic prosperity, increase community safety, and ensure mental health and addiction needs can be met, Winnipeg will implement emergency measures, which Mayor Scott Gillingham says “will have a significant impact.” The Downtown Safety Action Plan is a collaborative initiative through numerous stakeholders in Winnipeg, including municipal and provincial governments, outreach organizations, and emergency service providers.

“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 Premier Wab Kinew at the announcement Tuesday afternoon. “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.”

The Manitoba government is allocating nearly $1.5 million for the 2024-25 fiscal year to support various initiatives that form the downtown safety action plan.

These initiatives include:

Expanded Support for the Downtown Community Safety Partnership (DCSP):

    • This summer, the DCSP will receive $435,672 to increase its visibility downtown. This funding is bolstered by additional contributions of $100,000 from the Mayor of Winnipeg’s office and $50,000 from Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

Increased Mental Health Training for Downtown Partners:

    • A $100,000 investment will enhance mental health and well-being services by providing additional training for downtown partners.

Establishment of a Sobering Centre at N’Dinawemak – Our Relatives’ Place:

    • Up to $1,063,000 will be allocated to establish a sobering centre at 190 Disraeli Fwy. This funding will support new health and mental health positions and associated capital improvements. The centre will offer services, including case management, health system navigation, and paramedic services, with plans to scale up services as renovations are completed.

Frank Parkes, executive director of N’Dinawemak, expressed enthusiasm for collaborating with the Manitoba government. “Today’s announcement to continue to invest in much-needed additional health and mental health resources and supports at N’dinawemak will undoubtedly improve relative care and well-being at the shelter. We look forward to working with the province in the delivery and facilitation of these additional supports.”

Mayor Gillingham added. “Ensuring downtown is a safe place for everyone demands the commitment of all levels of government and community partners working together. The Downtown BIZ and DCSP have been strong leaders on this file. 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.”

Premier Kinew highlighted the immediate impact of these measures, particularly the increased visibility of DCSP and the establishment of the sobering centre. He noted that the sobering centre funding would continue until March 31, 2025, and additional investments would be considered for the long term.

Winnipeg’s downtown, as the heart of Manitoba, attracts people from across the province for festivals, concerts, and other events. Ensuring its safety is crucial for maintaining its appeal and vitality. The government’s commitment to addressing addiction and mental health issues, coupled with increased law enforcement visibility, aims to restore confidence among residents and visitors.

The Downtown Safety Action Plan represents a significant step towards addressing the complex challenges facing Winnipeg’s downtown area. Through collaboration and targeted investments, the Manitoba government and its partners are working to create a safer, healthier, and more prosperous downtown for all.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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