'It's just expected around here': Daniel McIntyre voters say they're worried about crime, safety
'Every day we go out, you just never know what's gonna happen in the area,' says one voter
Some voters in Winnipeg's Daniel McIntyre ward say they're afraid to walk the streets after dark.
"We've been robbed at gunpoint, me and my husband," says Samantha Kirton-Houle, who lives on Cumberland Avenue.
The 28-year-old says safety is her top issue in the 2018 election.
Daniel McIntyre voters will choose from three candidates when they go to the polls on Oct. 24. Cindy Gilroy, who defeated longtime councillor Harvey Smith to win the seat in 2014, faces challengers Josh Brandon and Sarowar Miah.
According to the city's CrimeStat data, there have been 1,036 incidents reported to police in Daniel McIntyre in the year to date (as of Sept. 28, 2018). There were 1,025 incidents reported during the same period in 2017.
By way of comparison, the River Heights-Fort Garry ward — which has a larger population — has had 401 incident reports this year, according to CrimeStat, and 406 during the January-September period in 2017.
Carlos Gonzalez, 68, lives on Spence Street and is a longtime resident of the Daniel McIntyre area. Twenty years ago, he says, you could leave your bike unlocked in Central Park and go for a walk down to Portage Avenue without having to worry about theft.
Policing has improved lately but when officers show up they sometimes look for the wrong people, Gonzalez said.
"Not for the bad people. They make a mistake all the time," says Gonzalez.
Julio Santos, who was sitting with Gonzalez in Central Park, agrees that crime is an issue.
"Not too long ago there was an old man there he got robbed and he got beat up," says Santos, referring to a street corner next to Central Park. He says the police weren't around and feels that they are powerless to stop that type of street crime.
'You just never know what's gonna happen'
"Even during the day, there's fights," says Kirton-Houle. "There's a lot of activity from Portage Place to here [Central Park],"
She says the police showed up within 15 minutes of being called when she was robbed, but she doesn't feel safe anymore. She and her husband plan to move out of the neighbourhood.
"Every day we go out, you just never know what's gonna happen in the area," says Brian George 31.
"That's how it is — it's just expected around here. For me, it's normal. I was raised here so I'm pretty comfortable around the area," said George, sitting in Central Park with his girlfriend, Ashley Fagnan, 33. The couple live together on nearby Langside Street.
"For the most part it's a safe area, just when the sun goes down it's a little crazy around here," George said.
He says that neighbourhood residents often have to deal with the fallout of drug use in their community.
"There's drugs all over the ground," says Fagnan.
"Notre Dame park and the MERC [Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre], their community centre — I don't even know if those places are getting cleaned," said George.
"The reason we don't take our daughter to the closer parks is because it's always dirty around there."
Homelessness, social issues
Francis Roulette, 56, lives on Carlton Street. He thinks that homelessness and social issues play a big role in the problems faced by residents of the ward, especially people who come into the city from remote areas.
"They get stuck here and it seems like the only way that they are dealing with a lot of things is to get into the alcohol, they get into the drugs — they can't seem to get out of that vicious cycle. They just go around and around," said Roulette.
He thinks that more support for places like the Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission could help those struggling with substance abuse issues.
Kirton-Houle, Gonzalez, Santos, George, Fagnan and Roulette all said they plan to vote in this year's civic election.
More CBC Manitoba election ward profiles:
- Elmwood-East Kildonan
- Fort Rouge-East Fort Garry
- North Kildonan
- Old Kildonan
- Point Douglas
- River Heights-Fort Garry
- St. Boniface
- St. James
- St. Norbert-Seine River
- St. Vital
- Waverley West
Journalism students from Red River College's creative communications program have prepared profiles of each city of Winnipeg ward ahead of the 2018 civic election for CBC Manitoba. Read all of our election 2018 coverage here.