Out Of Harms Way: 40 Community Leaders Gathered To Discuss Safe And Welcoming Spaces Downtown And Enhanced Coordination Of Accessible Health Services


November 9, 2015
For Immediate Release


Downtown Winnipeg – Members of the business community, Winnipeg Police Service, not-for-profit service providers, and health and social service agencies gathered on October 29 to begin development of a downtown strategy to address harms related to chronic substance abuse. With a shared vision to build a safe and welcoming downtown for all Winnipeggers, the forum engaged the expertise of many agencies and partners working to address the broad physical, mental, and social needs of those experiencing harms related to chronic substance use.

“By bringing together diverse stakeholders, we were able to get a better picture of what’s currently being done, what plans currently exist, what best practices we can lean on, and where there are shared priorities and opportunities for innovative ideas and improvements,” said Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “In the coming months we will build on this discussion, and work with stakeholders to create a final report with key recommendations that have the support of community – unifying our voice for capacity and for change.”

Grande added: “Currently, there is no strategy that includes shared priorities and action items to effectively use existing resources. We don’t want this plan to end up on a shelf, so we’re going to actively work with our partners to see where there is alignment and advocate collectively, linking arms, in the best interest of our members, the public, and those vulnerable.”

“Main Street Project aims to enhance the capacity, health and well-being of vulnerable street involved individuals, those struggling with substance abuse, and the homeless community,” said Lisa Goss, Executive Director of Main Street Project. “We aspire to address the determinants of health and to advocate for social justice and equity through collaborative community engagement. We are committed to being an effective, innovative and accountable community health centre. We are committed to the integration of services and this forum was an excellent example of people coming together to align under that same vision.”

Building on research that identified existing services, service gaps and challenges, and opportunities in the Downtown, forum participants explored two broad areas: safe spaces and the built environment, and coordination of accessible health and social services. Partners discussed what’s currently being done, what opportunities exist, and who can be involved. In the New Year, ideas for action will be further explored and champions will be identified for each task.

Representing a diverse cross-section of industries and sectors, participants contributed on behalf of the following organizations:

  • Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre
  • City of Winnipeg, Community By-law Enforcement
  • City of Winnipeg, Community Services
  • Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
  • Eagle Urban Transition Centre
  • End Homelessness Winnipeg
  • Health in Common
  • Health Science Centre
  • HSC Addictions, Adult Mental Health
  • Lived Experience Circle
  • Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata (Ma Mawi) Centre
  • Main Street Project
  • Manitoba Housing Tenant and Agency Services
  • Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries
  • Manitoba Restaurant and Food Services Association
  • Millennium Library
  • Mount Carmel Clinic, ACT Program
  • Province of Manitoba, Addictions Policy & Support Branch
  • Red Road Lodge
  • Social Planning Council
  • Sunshine House
  • The 595 Prevention Team
  • Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service
  • Winnipeg Police Services
  • WRHA Health Outreach and Community Support
  • WRHA Street Connections
  • WRHA Housing, Support and Service Integration

“With this shared vision and passionate input from many participates this is a big step in the right direction,” said Richard Wall, CEO of Red Road Lodge. “By addressing the concerns of those who visit our downtown by addressing the needs and helping those who have no choice but to live on the streets and simply survive downtown, our downtown can become a greater place.”

This forum was created with support from the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s Harms Reduction Advisory Committee, comprised of: Scot Haley (Winnipeg Police Service), Susan Olynik (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries), Larry Wandowich (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries), Bev Mehmel (Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries), Lisa Goss (Main Street Project), Sharon Kuropatwa (Winnipeg Regional Health Authority), Erin Huck (Health in Common), Richard Walls (Red Road Lodge), Robert Thorsten (True North Sports and Entertainment), Dave Stone (Portage Place Shopping Centre), in addition to BIZ staff, Stefano Grande, Shawn Matthews, Christy Stewner-Kornaga, and Jason Syvixay.

For more information, please visit www.downtownwinnipegbiz.com.

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For more information, contact:

Jason Syvixay, Managing Director, Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
(204) 958-4635; jason@downtownwinnipegbiz.com