WINNIPEG – A safer downtown Winnipeg is the goal of a $5 million community partnership investment by the Manitoba government focused on improving health, well-being and safety in downtown Winnipeg through expanded street outreach, including a 24-7 outreach presence in key areas for the first time, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced.
“Whether you live, work or play downtown, we want to make sure everyone feels safe in the heart of Winnipeg, and the Downtown Safety Partnership expands on a community model that focuses on relationship building, respect and partnership,” says Cullen. “I’m pleased to support this collaboration to help make Winnipeg’s city centre a safe and vibrant community.”
The provincial investment will allow Winnipeg’s Downtown Safety Partnership (DSP) to transition into a permanent, not-for-profit organization fully dedicated to enhancing the health, safety and well-being of all members of the downtown community.
“Community-centered outreach teams who can connect citizens with the help they need – whether that’s mental health and addictions support or help upgrading their skills and finding a job – translates into a better downtown for everyone,” said Marileen Bartlett, executive director of the Centre for Aboriginal Human Resource Development and a member of the DSP board of directors. “This is an opportunity to strengthen partnerships that will make our downtown safer, more inclusive and more welcoming for all.”
Priorities for the DSP include:
• expanding the presence of downtown community outreach and safety teams, and extending outreach hours to allow a 24-7 presence in key areas for the first time,
• enhancing downtown outreach via new community service teams of highly trained community support workers who can address situations that do not require a police or paramedic response, and
• establishing a 24-7 Downtown Safety Communications Centre that will facilitate real-time information sharing among downtown safety partners and support existing downtown agencies in their work.
The minister noted the DSP’s community-centred approach will provide a welcoming presence, help build community trust, and strengthen collaboration and resources for agencies that currently operate downtown.
“Today’s funding helps us build an expanded, permanent, community-centred outreach presence that provides the right resources and support at the right time,” said Kate Fenske, CEO, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “This model builds on past successes and puts renewed focus on proactively addressing community needs so everyone downtown feels safe and welcome.”
Further operational details about the Downtown Safety Partnership will be announced in the coming weeks, the minister noted. He added the new organization will be governed by a broadly representative board of downtown stakeholders and will receive guidance from a community advisory committee.