Manitoba

Booze ban drops emergency calls at St. Regis Hotel

Fire and paramedic calls to Winnipeg's St. Regis Hotel have dropped dramatically since booze was banned.

Emergency calls down after booze ban at St. Regis Hotel

9 years ago
Duration 2:01
Emergency calls to Winnipeg's St. Regis Hotel have dropped dramatically since booze was banned. Guests say they're happier with the new atmosphere. CBC's Joanne Levasseur reports.

Emergency calls to Winnipeg's St. Regis Hotel have dropped dramatically since booze was banned.

Emergency crews were called to the St. Regis Hotel on Smith Street 25 times in January. Since the ban kicked in on Feb. 1, there have only been six calls.

The 102-year-old hotel, which opened in July 1911 and was billed as one of the city's most modern hotels, was better known in recent years for its seedy side. Police were often called to break up fights by intoxicated people, or usher away panhandlers.

In 2009, a man's body was found in one of the rooms. He had been a long-term guest at the hotel.

Downtown development agency, CentreVenture, bought it late last year as part of a larger plan to revitalize the area.

CentreVenture, an arm's-length agency of the City of Winnipeg, then announced it would shut down the beverage room and video lottery terminal lounge as soon as possible. 

Many guests at the hotel told CBC News the changes are welcome.

Elias Caribou and his 80-year-old father are staying at the hotel this week, after a medical emergency required them to come to the city.

"The first thing I noticed: there were not a lot of people standing out front," said Caribou.

Often the sidewalk outside the building was crowded with intoxicated people and panhandlers.

St. Regis general manager Rob Sankar said most of the troublemakers weren't even his customers.

"No owner likes to lose revenue.  I talked about breaking the cycle of the behaviour that was going on — something had to happen," he said.

"[It's] definitely a positive thing for the community."

And a positive change for guests. Caribou said the changes have put him at ease.

"It’s a lot more relaxed. I don’t have to worry about my father — about people bothering him," he said.

CentreVenture has not said what will ultimately happen to the St. Regis. There have been rumours about turning it into a boutique hotel.

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