Winnipeg's Bear Clan aims to roll out bike patrols next month

Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol will soon be mounted on bikes.

15 bicycles for citizen patrol group arrived Friday, purchased using money from 2018 provincial grant

James Favel, executive director of the Bear Clan Patrol, said the bike patrols will help the team cover more ground and respond to emergencies more quickly. (CBC)

Winnipeg's Bear Clan Patrol will soon be mounted on bikes.

The volunteer-based community patrol received 15 bicycles Friday, purchased with money from a provincial grant awarded in November.

James Favel, executive director of the Bear Clan Patrol, said the group hopes to roll out bike-mounted patrols in the three Winnipeg neighbourhoods where it operates starting next month.

"We'll be able to go a bit further afield," he said. "If there's an emergency, we'll be able respond a little quicker with the bikes."

The patrol group — which runs seven different volunteer patrols over five days a week in the North End, the West End and West Broadway — also received five donated bikes from Winnipeg bike group The WRENCH (the Winnipeg Repair Education and Cycling Hub), Favel said.

All 20 bikes will be equipped with gear including first aid kids, automated external defibrillators or AEDs, food, sharps containers, poke-resistant gloves, condoms and naloxone kits, used to treat opioid overdoses.

"Everything that we normally carry will be on the bike. We'll be able to truck it around," Favel said.

'It's a positive thing'

The Bear Clan received $126,000 from the province's Proceeds of Crime Fund, which distributed money from Manitoba's share of forfeited funds from federally prosecuted Criminal Code offences to multiple agencies last November.

Proceeds for the fund came from confiscated property or proceeds of unlawful activity, and property used in committing a crime, the province said in a release at the time.

"I think it's very important. It's a positive thing," said Sgt. Brian Chrupalo, a member of the Winnipeg Police Service and board chair of the Bear Clan.

"It gives organizations such as ourself, the Bear Clan, the opportunity to accept funds on behalf of the province and the Winnipeg Police Service who helped get the grant to put that [money] back."

The police service will provide bicycle training to Bear Clan volunteers in the near future, he added.

The provincial funding was also used to purchase equipment for the Bear Clan's physical space and some gear for its volunteers, including tourniquets, flashlights and search gloves.

Favel said the group plans to dedicate roughly $60,000 from the funding to a 15-seat passenger van.