Winnipeg teams in mass North End cleanup backed by police chief
Teams of volunteers fanned out across Winnipeg's North End neighbourhood on Friday as part of a "Restore our Core" cleanup campaign to beautify the area, with Police Chief Devon Clunis telling its residents, and the city at large, they had a collective responsibility to work together to improve it.
The crews are to move throughout the district until 4 p.m. to clear garbage from streets and yards, part of a campaign underwritten by members of the business community and supported by various city departments, including public works, community services and Fire and Paramedics.
"The message is both to those who reside here and the entire city as a whole, not only to residents, but to government, to everyone involved...," he said. "We have a responsibility, yes for those who are living here, yes it can be better, but for those on the outside to say 'Yes we have a responsibility to bring it to the same condition.'"
Clunis said he was not "naive enough" to yearn for a return to the past, but hoped the district could restore some of its bustle. People, he said, often concluded it was the police's job to tackle crime, but there was more to it than that.
"The environment here we allow to exist is part of what we have to deal with in terms of crime, so let's get to dealing with the root causes of crime in our city," he said.
Crews, equipped with at least one loader, will pursue the efforts throughout the district on Saturday.
The North End has earned a reputation for being one of the city's most difficult areas in terms of decay and crime. It has seen a number of initiatives aimed at strengthening health care, education and family ties.
MAKING COMMUNITIES ORDERLY AND SAFE
The two-day cleanup is part of a larger initiative involving door-to-door visits, informing citizens about the Neighbourhood Liveability by-law to maintain orderly and safe communities — clearing yards and ensuring they are in good repair, checking for graffiti and conducting an inventory to help target areas of concern.
Cecilia Zungia, who has lived on Dufferin Street in the North End for 12 years, was gratified by the mass volunteer effort and noted that change was clearly underway.
"It's changing, starting from my area. Everyone started getting the by laws, so that's a good thing
At first everyone was upset, but now after noticing everything is getting clean, it's getting much better
it's good to cooperate and do what is right to keep our community clean," she said..
"It's getting safer. At the beginning there were lots of things going on, but now it's getting much better," praising volunteers from both inside and outside the area.
"I am learning lots too, trying to work in my garden so I am learning lots too," she said.
Clunis agreed that help from other areas was critical. In addition to engaging residents, he said, "the greater piece is people from outside the community coming in and for them to see and interact with people, to start talking to one another again....You have to start here and drill deeper and that's what we are doing here today."
He praised an initiative this week by aboriginal groups to use traditional drums and music to reach out to a woman believed to have fallen victim to drug gangs,
"I think that when the community sees not only their community people working, but that others outside of the community care to build that strong culture of safety and care that we are talking about for the entire city," he said.
With files from Jillian Taylor