Manitoba

Downtown Safety Partnership gets $5M from province to become permanent non-profit

The provincial government is spending $5 million to establish a non-profit organization focused on street outreach and shifting some services away from police to social service agencies.

Organization will focus on community outreach

The Manitoba government is spending $5 million on a downtown street outreach program in Winnipeg. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

The Downtown Safety Partnership, started as a pilot project last year, is getting $5 million funding from the provincial government to help establish it as a permanent non-profit organization focused on street outreach.

"Whether you live, work or play downtown, we want to make sure that you feel safe downtown," Justice Minister Cliff Cullen said at a news conference Friday. 

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said it's crucial to find ways to reduce the number of times police have to respond to calls dealing with social and health issues, not crime.

Establishing the Downtown Safety Partnership is an important step toward achieving that goal, he said.

"Handling these types of health and social issues requires us to think creatively and innovatively to reduce demands on police so they can do only what they can do: enforce our laws, arrest criminals and investigate crimes," Bowman said. 

"This is one of the many steps we need to take together as a community, and we need to continue to find opportunities to connect citizens with the resources they need with this investment. Let's now work toward measurable health and safety outcomes for those who need it most."

The Downtown Safety Partnership launched last year, involving the City of Winnipeg, True North Sports and Entertainment, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, the Winnipeg Police Service and other stakeholders. Its aim is to improve the health, safety and well-being of people downtown. 

WATCH | Downtown Safety Partnership gets $5M from province:

Downtown safety in Winnipeg

CBC News Manitoba

10 months ago
2:04
Downtown Safety Partnership gets $5M from province to become permanent non-profit. 2:04

Organizers of Justice 4 Black Lives, a Winnipeg movement to end anti-Black racism, have been pushing to defund the Winnipeg Police Service in favour of allocating more funds to social services, housing and mental health supports.

Markus Chambers, the incoming head of the Winnipeg Police Board, said there's much more work to be done before that can happen, but Friday's funding announcement is an important step. 

"We're glad that this contribution has been made … so that we can start working in that direction," he said.

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