Downtown BIZ Takes Home National Tourism Award


November 27, 2014
For Immediate Release


Downtown Winnipeg – The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ was one of fifteen organizations and individuals honoured by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) as a recipient of the 2014 Canadian Tourism Awards, presented at a gala ceremony at the Westin Ottawa Hotel last night.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ took home the Via Rail Canada Community Service Award for its work in raising the corporate community’s awareness about homelessness and the importance of private and public sector collaboration to end it. Other finalists in this category were: Delta Vancouver Suites (Vancouver, BC) and Eaton Chelsea (Toronto, ON).

“We are honoured to have received this award,” says Stefano Grande, Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ. “Homelessness is one of the greatest challenges that still exists in our city. We need to continue to intensify this conversation around homelessness with our business community and challenge government to press forward with long-term solutions.”

Since its inception, the CEO Sleepout has fundraised nearly half a million dollars to employ 40 individuals who are homeless – providing shelter, quality of life supports, and an opportunity to contribute back to the city in a positive and meaningful way. Many of these individuals have returned to school or found permanent full-time jobs – prospects once considered unattainable due to the numerous barriers facing those deeply entrenched in the cycle of poverty and homelessness.

In addition, Rob Johnston, a three-time CEO Sleepout participant and former regional RBC President, went on to co-chair the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council (WPRC) Task Force to End Homelessness, with a focus on bringing together the private, public and not-for-profit sector to develop a plan to end homelessness in our city. This plan was created in consultation with cities from all across North America, with consideration of indigenous perspectives, insights from social agencies working on the front lines and the voice of the business community.

By setting direction in four key areas – prevention, creating a person-centred system of care, a “Housing First” strategy backed up by an adequate housing supply and careful measurement [data collection] for use in evaluating and improving programs – this plan will help reduce the number of individuals who are homeless, whether they are living in shelters or in transient housing. Download the plan:

“Tonight was an excellent showcase of the amazing travel experiences, products and people that Canada has to offer. Coast to coast to coast, outstanding groups of individuals and organizations have demonstrated expertise, perseverance and determination on the path to success and are a testament to the quality of Canada’s world-class tourism industry,” said TIAC President and CEO (Interim) Rob Taylor.

The Canadian Tourism Awards are presented annually by TIAC to recognize success, leadership and innovation in Canada’s tourism industry, and to reward those people, places, organizations and events that have gone above and beyond to offer travellers superior tourism experiences in Canada.

Donations toward Change for the Better can be done in three ways:

  1. Online at
  2. Cheque or money order made out to “Downtown BIZ – Change for the Better” (Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, 426 Portage Avenue, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 0C9)
  3. Collection boxes at participating venues downtown

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Jason Syvixay, Managing Director
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
Phone: 204.958.4635

Change for the Better