Air Canada recently put out a directive to staff instructing them to no longer stay in downtown Winnipeg hotels citing safety concerns. According to media reports, our Mayor is puzzled by this move.
The Mayor, other politicians and special interest groups with a vested interest in the downtown, have for years been perpetuating the illusion that the downtown area of Winnipeg is a safe place.
I suppose Air Canada’s refusal to ignore the facts is what is puzzling the Mayor.
The Crimestat Maps that follow depict the 8 types of crime tracked by Crimestat for the period for October 1st 2010 and October 1st 2011. Map 1 shows the Portage South Community, Map 2 the Central Park Community, and Map 3 the Portage Ellice Community. The maps (and statistic tables) for those 3 downtown communities show that in the previous calendar year there were 4 homicides, 111 muggings, and 24 * sexual assaults.
Portage Ellice Community
Now let’s have a look at the St. James Industrial Community, where the Ar Canada staff will be staying. This area had no homicides in the last year, 6 muggings and 6 sexual assaults and a smattering of other property crime.
St. James Industrial Community
If you are still puzzled Mr. Mayor why not go for a walk with the Chief of Police to Portage Avenue and Main Street, pull your collective heads out of the clouds and look what is happening on Portage Avenue. Alternately have a close look at Crimestat and ‘visit’ some of the neighbourhoods in the downtown and the immediate north end and ask yourself how safe you would feel to live there. And finally, do something about it.
Stop spewing the election time propaganda that policing and the safety of Winnipeg streets is a provincial problem. It’s not. It’s a City of Winnipeg problem. It’s your problem and a Winnipeg Police problem. Do your job and provide appropriate policy direction to the Police Service and hold them accountable to address the issue of crime on the streets of Winnipeg.
* correction to original post
I think what’s missing in this debate is common sense. Downtown Winnipeg is not dangerous and anyone who lives and works there knows it. Is it worse than other neighbourhoods? Maybe. But even if it is the worst neighbourhood in Winnipeg, that does not make it dangerous. AC staff travel the world, and the dangeriousness of downtown Winnipeg doesn’t even place on the scale of dangerous cities.
Trying to portray downtown Winnipeg as dangerous distorts reality. It’s only dangerous relative to other Winnipeg neighbourhoods. It’s like saying downtown Brandon is the most dangerous neighbourhood in that city – which is ridiculous, because Brandon is obviously not a dangerous place.
Downtown Winnipeg has crimes. But to continually harp on how dangerous it is doesn’t reflect the reality of how safe the neighborhood – and Winnipeg as a whole – is. 25% of Winnipeggers work downtown everyday, and a growing number live there. They understand the reality. Unfortunately, media types don’t.
A little common sense would be nice.
I don’t let my wife wander alone in the downtown after business hours. As a photog I have but take care even though I am quite large and robust. There are way too many knife attacks in this city.
All the spin and manipulation of facts will not change the fact that downtown Winnipeg is a nasty place to be. Maybe the Mayor and business types should get serious about cleaning it up instead of taking refuge in denial and attacks.