A Refreshed Plan for Downtown

 
 

MEDIA RELEASE
November 27, 2013
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

A REFRESHED PLAN FOR DOWNTOWN
DOWNTOWN BIZ UNVEILS BOLD STRATEGIC PLAN

Downtown Winnipeg — Over 150 BIZ members and downtown stakeholders attended the Downtown BIZ’s 25th Annual General Meeting, to celebrate the fast-moving progress occurring at the heart of our city, and to highlight the BIZ’s achievements in 2013. After a year of vigorous consultation with BIZ members, stakeholders, and the community at-large, the BIZ also unveiled its Strategic Plan for 2014-2016 which highlighted the following strategic recommendations:

•In a supportive role to CentreVenture, attract more people to live downtown. New residents help create activity at all hours of the day, frequent retail and cultural institutions and energize older buildings;
•As the Sports, Hospitality, and Entertainment District unfolds, the BIZ is committed to channel its core functions – safety, cleanliness, placemaking, marketing and events – for this area;
•Encourage destination retail at street level, with a focus on young entrepreneurs and small business owners, as they are important city catalysts. Retail is a critical amenity for the business community and growing residential base;
•Enhance and strengthen partnerships with the aboriginal community with the creation of an Aboriginal Peoples’ Advisory Committee. This committee will serve as a formal liaison point between the BIZ and the aboriginal community and will incorporate an aboriginal perspective and voice to our programs;
•Support the creation and/or the attraction of more evening and/or winter events, giving people unique and incredible reasons to visit the heart of our city;
•Challenge urban sprawl, car culture, and the growing number of surface parking lots downtown;
•Advocate for an integrated transportation strategy to better connect people to downtown; and
•Work to end homelessness for a more socially and economically prosperous downtown.

“Our refreshed plan punctuates important promises, not mere declarations of hope, but commitments to act,” said Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown BIZ. “The strategies chosen show our commitment to our mandate but also a willingness to explore, evolve and change with the broader community in areas that need attention.”

The BIZ Management Board, staff and volunteers also celebrated achievements fulfilled since 2010:

•Transferred the BIZ Outreach Program to the WPS Cadets, to help people who are intoxicated off the street and quickly for the safety of everyone downtown;
•Advocating for a permanent solution to homelessness, through the BIZ’s CEO Sleepout that has engaged and mobilized the corporate community to get behind housing initiatives and employment programs. Since 2011, the BIZ has raised over $400,000 to hire over 30 homeless to contribute meaningfully to downtown;
•Created CHAT, the Community Homeless Assistance Team, to help the homeless get off the street through connections with community supports.
•Quietly launched the Watch Loss Prevention Team to better educate and support retailers, parkade owners and operators in the areas of loss prevention to stop retail theft in its tracks;
•Improved peoples’ perception of downtown safety and cleanliness. Majority of people believe downtown is changing for the better! 90% of people feel safe during the day, a 33% increase since 2007. While more than 50% of people agree downtown is cleaner. And 83% of downtown business owners are confident about the current and future direction of downtown Winnipeg;
•Continue to host events that bring people downtown in the thousands. Our annual festival, ManyFest, continues to attract well over 50,000 people to the heart of our city. This year, we added Winnipeg’s first downtown food truck wars and it was a fan favourite – people were arriving in droves to sample their delicious cuisine offerings. Our Canada Day Living Flag event put downtown on the map in 2012 – when this mass photo-op was chosen to be an official Canada Post stamp, with over 10 million produced and circulated worldwide;
•Played a lead role in addressing the impact of the closure of 2 grocery stores in and around our downtown. We brought stakeholders together to complete a market feasibility assessment for a downtown grocery store. Since its publication, CentreVenture has championed this issue to find our downtown a grocer. When we heard from local residents, our members, and the business community, we felt the need to do something to address this gap. With the assistance of Manitoba Hydro and CentreVenture, the BIZ created downtown’s first farmers’ market, a widely popular destination for Winnipeggers.

“Downtown investment is back with a vengeance with 9 towers proposed or underway and $2 billion of investment added to downtown streets since 2005,” Grande proudly stated at the meeting. “We’re expecting a residential rebirth with the downtown population approaching nearly 16,000 people, with almost 2,000 units of housing proposed.”

Grande added: “More events are popping up downtown than ever before, attracting millions of people. There’s increased public art and more police foot patrols. More is also being done to help the homeless off the street and into a better place.”

The BIZ also revealed its annual BIZ Achievement Award recipients for 2013:

•Best New Business & Property Manager – Kids & Company Daycare / Green Valley Management
•Most Outstanding BIZ Member Committed to Ending Homelessness & Improving Our City – Rob Johnston, RBC Regional President
•Best Public Institution – Millennium Library Park
•Best Not-for-Profit Institution – Youth for Christ
•Best Arts and Entertainment (Not-for-Profit) – Prairie Theatre Exchange
•Best Arts and Entertainment – The Metropolitan Entertainment Centre
•Trending Hotspot – Rudy’s Eat and Drink
•Timeless Classic (Fine Dining) – Hy’s Steakhouse & Cocktail Bar
•Timeless Classic (Retail) – Canadian Footwear
•Best Small Project (Huge Downtown Boost) – Metric Marketing

Download the BIZ’s 2013 Annual Report and/or Strategic Plan for 2014-2016 at www.downtownwinnipegbiz.com.

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For more information:
Jason Syvixay
Leader, Strategic Initiatives & Public Relations
Ph: (204) 958-4635; jason@downtownwinnipegbiz.com