2013 Top 10 Downtown Achievements


December 19, 2013


Downtown Winnipeg – As the holiday season nears, we find ourselves reflecting on the past year and on those who have helped to shape our city in a significant way. Before we ring in the New Year, the BIZ takes a moment to look back on the year that was and what has been accomplished downtown.

“Today, due to the efforts of many stakeholders and partners, downtown investment is back in spades, with nine towers underway this year or proposed, representing over $2 billion in spending,” said Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “We’re experiencing a residential rebirth with the downtown population approaching 16,000 people – with almost 2,000 units of housing proposed for the next few years.”

New and innovative downtown district plans are emerging both at The Forks and the newly formed Sports, Hospitality, and Entertainment District, helping to better guide investment. More events are being staged downtown than ever before, bringing millions of people into the area. There’s increased public art and more foot patrols – helping make downtown clean, vibrant and safe. More is also being done to help the homeless off the street and into proper living quarters.

In 2010, the BIZ set in motion an ambitious plan to help bolster even more activity in our downtown – thinking afresh about what it means to be at the heart of our city as an agency for change. Now at the end of our three-year strategic plan, we can say with the utmost confidence that we are an organization that gets the job done for our members. We’ve launched significant new ventures and introduced bold ideas that have resulted in more public recognition about the qualities and potential of our downtown. We’ve done extensive work in the areas of safety, litter pickup and aesthetically appealing streets, in addition to the following highlights this year:

1.Successfully advocated for increased police presence downtown. In 2012/13, 18 new police foot patrols were committed to downtown;
2.Took a leadership role in advocating for a permanent solution to ending homelessness, through the BIZ’s CEO Sleepout that has engaged and mobilized the corporate community to get behind housing first initiatives and employment programs. Since 2011, the BIZ has raised over $400,000 to hire over 30 homeless to contribute meaningfully to downtown;
3.Created CHAT, the Community Homeless Assistance Team, to help the homeless obtain shelter by connecting them with community support groups;
4.Quietly launched the Watch Loss Prevention Team to better educate and support retailers, parkade owners and operators on loss prevention, with the goal of stopping retail theft in its tracks;
5.Improved peoples’ perception of downtown safety and cleanliness. 90% of people feel safe during the day, a 33% increase since 2007. More than 50% of people agree downtown is cleaner. 83% of downtown business owners are confident about the current and future direction of downtown Winnipeg;
6.Our annual festival, ManyFest, attracted well over 50,000 people downtown. This year, we added Winnipeg’s first downtown food truck wars and it was a fan favourite;
7.Played a lead role in addressing the impact of the closure of two grocery stores in and around our downtown. We brought stakeholders together to complete a market feasibility assessment for a downtown grocery store. Since that study was published, CentreVenture has championed the issue and is working to find a downtown grocer;
8.From July to September, people arrived in the thousands to support the local economy, purchasing produce farmed right here in Manitoba. In doing so, they explored our downtown and frequented nearby shops and restaurants. In November, we hosted a pilot winter farmers’ market and just like we had hoped, we saw people en masse;
9.Launched our Downtown Tours initiative, creating 8 unique expeditions throughout downtown that helped to change negative perceptions and promoted various restaurants. Hundreds of Winnipeggers biked, walked and tour our downtown; and
10.We embraced Manito Ahbee Festival’s mission with passion and explored new ways to diversity our programming, including a Pow Wow at the Park and Canada’s largest downtown friendship dance with the business community. The BIZ is committed to creating a welcoming, inclusive and accessible downtown; one that is culturally sensitive and diverse.

Some notable performance metrics:

-Crime (total incidents) decreased from 496 in 2012 to 340 in 2013 (Jan. to Sept.);
-Crime (commercial break and enter) decreased from 105 in 2012 to 46 in 2013 (Jan. to Sept.);
-ManyFest attendees increased from 35,000 people in 2011 to 50,000 people in 2013;
-Downtown Watch Volunteers increased from 67 in 2006 to 250 in 2013;
-Downtown Watch Volunteer (hours logged) increased from 6,249 hours in 2006 to 18,000 hours in 2013;
-Change for the Better donations increased from $10K in 2009 to $200K in 2013 as a result of the CEO Sleepout;
-100 new bike racks added to downtown streets over the last two years;
-10 Bike Patrols launched in 2013 as part of MEC partnership;
-7 Downtown Watch moved on to careers in law enforcement in 2013; and
-7,000 visited downtown’s first farmers’ market.

“We are moving forward with purpose and doing what we can to help make downtown the exciting and thriving centerpiece of our growing city – a downtown that belongs to everyone,” Grande added. “All the necessary elements and tools for downtown success are in place. Let’s get the job done.”

More highlights here: www.downtownwinnipegbiz.com/2013annualreport.

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Jason Syvixay
Leader, Strategic Initiatives & Public Relations
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
(204) 958-4635; jason@downtownwinnipegbiz.com