Downtown Makes a Clean Break


By: Aldo Santin

WINNIPEGGERS are changing their tune on the downtown.

Folks feel downtown is safe, its bus shelters are the cleanest in the city and the area is clean and comfortable, two new surveys by the Downtown Business Improvement Zone have found.

“People who come downtown, those who shop, work and live here, know this,” Stefano Grande said. “We know that people who don’t come downtown don’t share that opinion and we have to get that message out to them.”

Grande said the results on safety are supported by Winnipeg Police Service data, which show crime downtown has been steadily decreasing and accounts for about five per cent of all incidents of crime in the city.

The surveys were held separately between October and the end of March.

Members of the Downtown Watch conducted in-person interviews during one week at the end of March on the issue of safety and cleanliness at different times of the day.

An earlier survey on the cleanliness of bus shelters in downtown was conducted between Oct. 20 and Nov. 1 by NRG Research Group in telephone interviews with 803 residents.

Grande said people’s attitudes towards cleanliness in the downtown is the result of the $550,000 spent by the Downtown BIZ every year on a variety of clean-up programs.

Grande said the Winnipeg police CrimeStat data show incidents of crime downtown decreased 14 per cent between 2008 and 2009 and a further 24 per cent in the first quarter of 2010.

“We have some rough edges but the issues of downtown are definitely not crime-related… they’re social issues,” Grande said.

Buzz on the street
Questions asked by the Downtown Watch of people on Portage Avenue:

Do you feel safe on Portage Avenue today?
Yes 294 89.36%
No 35 10.64%

Do you feel the Portage Avenue sidewalk is clean today?
Yes 278 86.6%
No 43 13.4%

Do you feel comfortable on Portage Avenue today?
Yes 292 90.4%
No 31 9.6%

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2010 B1