October 15, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BUSINESS COMMUNITY INVESTS $285,000 IN DOWNTOWN WITH ENHANCED SAFETY & CLEANLINESS PROGRAMS TO RESPOND TO INCREASED EVENING EVENTS/VIBRANCY
Downtown Winnipeg – With more and more restaurants opening up in the downtown, the return of the Manitoba Moose and the Winnipeg Jets, and growing night time vibrancy, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ have added 5 additional Downtown Watch ambassadors and 5 Metro Enviro-Team members to enhance safety and cleanliness services in the evenings, specifically around event destinations. The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ will provide a higher level of service to enhance feelings of safety and welcome among the increasing number of people coming downtown. In addition, the Watch will regularly set up “welcome kiosks” to hand out downtown information and maps, provide directions to crowds coming to the MTS Centre, Winnipeg Convention Centre, and the SHED. The total investment from the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and its members for these added services is $285,000.
5 Downtown Watch will begin patrolling downtown’s streets regularly in the evenings, from 4 p.m. to 12 a.m., and 5 Metro Enviro-Clean Team members will operate from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., specifically around event destinations. Whether it’s at a large event at a hotel or restaurant, a function at the Winnipeg Convention Centre, a sold out show at the MTS Centre, a festival in a downtown public space, or a future Jets game, expect a greater presence of our Watch and Clean-Team who will be meeting and greet people, offering all our ambassadorship services and providing an enhanced sense of safety and welcome.
“This increase in resources show the commitment from downtown businesses that we are dedicated to providing a safe, clean, and positive experience for those coming downtown,” says Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “This step is in response to the fact that more and more people are coming downtown in the evenings to enjoy the numerous wonderful events we have here. We want to make sure they feel comfortable as they come and go from their event destinations.”
There has also been an increased safety focus on Portage Ave. this summer, with additional Watch presence on the street and at BIZ kiosks during weekdays to provide information, directions, maps and SafeWalks.
In addition to extra cleaning on Portage Ave., there are buskers and musicians, more patios, tables and chairs, and concerts. It is all part of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s goal to activate the street with positive programs and initiatives, to encourage businesses and property owners to be part of the solution in changing perceptions about safety and cleanliness in front of their properties.
“With more activities happening, more people will be drawn out onto the street, and with more people walking outdoors at all hours of the day and night, comes a natural feeling of safety,” Grande added.
An estimated 13.5 million people visit downtown arts and entertainment venues every year. More than 2.8 million tourists visit Winnipeg each year with the majority of overnight visitors staying at one of downtown’s 19 hotels. More than 950,000 visits to 50 downtown festivals are recorded, and 1.5 million visits to the MTS Centre for a sold-out hockey game or concert.
Downtown crime continues to decrease, comprising less than five per cent of all crimes in our city. But several surveys have indicated that while the perceptions of downtown safety have improved during the day, they remain lower in the evening. And as more and more visitors are returning downtown after hours, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ is demonstrating the business community’s leadership in addressing these issues, even while we continue to advocate for more police resources in our downtown.
The Downtown Watch program has a total of 25 Watch and Customer Service staff and over 200 Watch volunteers, in addition to 3 outreach workers who assist chronically homeless. Dressed in red and black, the Watch are on patrol 24 hours Tuesday to Saturday and from 7:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. on Sundays and Mondays. In the summer, 10 Bike Patrol ambassadors join the team to circulate through downtown more quickly.
The Watch safety ambassadors patrol the streets and skywalks, providing SafeWalks and keeping watch for suspicious activity. They help out wherever they can, from reporting medical emergencies to assisting lost or vulnerable people, to assisting with panhandlers or intoxicated individuals, to calling police if they spot a crime in progress.
Downtown cleanliness is a priority for the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, which sees 20 Metro Enviro-Team staff dedicated to litter removal, sidewalk sweeping, flower watering and tending, graffiti removal, poster removal, and clean downtown’s sidewalks every day. Starting at 6:30 in the morning, sidewalk machines sweep and wash downtown, and in the winter two snow plows clear major sidewalks of ice and light snow.
For more information, visit www.downtownwinnipegbiz.com.
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For more information, contact:
Jason Syvixay, Managing Director
Tel: (204) 958-4635; email@example.com