Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION

Fight goes on for Point Douglas residents

  • Print

As a new year begins, Sel Burrows reflects on changes in his community, but acknowledges there is still much work to do in the coming months.

Burrows, a resident of Point Douglas and president of the North Point Douglas Seniors Association, marvels at the turnaround that has occurred at Barberhouse 55+ Centre, which re-opened about a year ago, as an example.

What was once a burned-out "hulk" of a place now has new life, serving as a senior’s centre by day and community centre by night. In a neighbourhood which once had few seniors services, the house now offers table tennis, quilting clubs, arts and crafts and even income tax workshops.

Adjacent to the building is a daycare operated by SISTARS (Sisters Initiating Steps Towards A Renewed Society).

Point Douglas has historically been plagued by crime, but efforts to remove those negative influences from the community have enjoyed great success over the years. Burrows sees Barberhouse as a metaphor for change in the area— a "phoenix," as he puts it, rising from the ashes to newfound glory.

"The dream was that it would be a community hub," he said. "We call it our phoenix, saving the community from a drug-ridden crime centre to become a healthy, vital, alive community that cares about its people. And it’s worked."

These days, Burrows and his various associates in the community are tackling two other issues, including finding ways of keeping kids in school.

"The principal of Norquay School (Nancy Dyck) is one of our partners... She recognized right off the bat that kids coming out of Grade 6 into Grade 7 were dropping out of school," Burrows explained.

The school’s principal determined part of the problem was that students who would be moving on to attend St. John’s High School would have to travel by bus each day. Because some families might not be able to afford a bus pass for their child, Dyck decided to raise money to purchase passes for graduating students.

The benefits of the plan will be twofold, Burrows said: Not only will it get kids to school, it will keep them in contact with their old principal, who will be able to check up on them when they come in to get their pass.

Another major priority for the association is finding work for young, unemployed men in the community.

"We’ve got this underclass of guys who have no attachment to the workforce whatsoever," Burrows explained, adding that strategies to tackle that issue are still being devised.

After years of battling a tide of drug dealers, crack houses and crime in general, these are merely the latest in a string of problem areas which Burrows and his companions, including the anonymous, invisible COWS (Citizens On Watch) and a network of local professionals, government sources and business people, have waded into in their efforts to improve the community.

More recently, they tackled the problem of constant, raucous parties on Prince Edward Street. PowerLine distributed leaflets along Prince Edward and other nearby streets alerting residents to the problem, and encouraging anonymous tips.

"That was in September, and there hasn’t been a party since," Burrows noted proudly.
Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether or not efforts like these are making a difference, but Burrows can see evidence on his own doorstep: When he moved into the area years ago, he and his wife would be lucky to get 25 kids at Halloween.

"Last Halloween there were 125, minimum. That’s a symbol of a healthier community," he said.
"We still have a lot of people with issues in their lives... But we’ve basically taken (away) the bad guys’ control of the streets."

Making sure the neighbourhood sees the good guys are winning is critical, Burrows said.
"No matter how good the programs are, if (kids) go back onto a street where drug dealers are wearing their gold chains... it’s very hard," he said.

"If the tone of the neighbourhood is that the bad guys are dominant, these programs don’t work."

And so the fight goes on.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller

Fall Arts Guide

We preview what’s new and what’s coming up in Winnipeg’s new arts season

View our Fall Arts Guide

Readers' Choice Awards

Best Of Winnipeg 2015 Readers Survey

Make your choice in the Canstar Community News‘ Best of Winnipeg Readers‘ Choice Awards

Vote Now

This Just In Twitter bird


Are you taking place in any Earth Day events this week?

View Results