Metro News Winnipeg
By: James Turner
Ten new red-shirted Downtown Watch ambassadors will patrol downtown streets in the evenings.
The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ wants theatregoers, concert lovers and sports fans who flock into the area at night to start seeing red in a big way — largely to combat people’s feelings they’re unsafe there in the black of night.
Yesterday, the business-advocacy agency said it had raised just under $200,000 in funding from businesses, allowing it to hire 10 more red-shirted Downtown Watch ambassadors.
The ambassadors — a feature on downtown streets for years now — will patrol in the evening hours and will make their presence felt at so-called “event destinations” like the MTS Centre, the BIZ said.
“This special complement will focus on areas where there is a lot of traffic,” said Stefano Grande, the downtown BIZ’s executive director.
The hope is the presence will enhance perceptions of safety and put goodwill guides in the faces of residents and tourists taking in downtown for whatever reason.
“It’s more than safety and security that we will be doing,” he said.
Surveys have suggested people’s feelings of safety while in the area at night are lower than during the daytime.
The addition of the 10 staff brings the total number of downtown ambassadors to 22. The BIZ also has 10 staffers on an outreach patrol to deal with drunks and vagrants.
“With the return of the NHL and a number of other initiatives going on … it’s nothing but positives, this entire program,” said Winnipeg police Insp. Jim Poole.
The BIZ says it will continue to lobby for greater police resources in the area.