October 20, 2019

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Residents nervous about night's perils

Condo owners say daytime safety not a concern

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2010 (3339 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The benefits of living downtown outweigh any concerns that Kaley Maksymyk and Katharina Smutny might have had about their safety when they moved into Exchange District condo units this summer.

The 20-something best friends live one floor apart in the same building and work only a few minutes' walk away in the same office building.

"Honestly, just living here has changed my perspective of downtown," Maksymyk, a former resident of East St. Paul, said. "I often thought where I would buy a house and settle down and a few years ago I never would have thought I'd be living downtown but I just think it's the best thing ever."

An unreleased survey by the Downtown Business Improvement Zone found 82 per cent of downtown residents feel safe in the area during the day, an improvement from similar surveys of a few years ago. However, those same residents are fearful of the night and some believe their vehicles are at risk around the clock.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/8/2010 (3339 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The benefits of living downtown outweigh any concerns that Kaley Maksymyk and Katharina Smutny might have had about their safety when they moved into Exchange District condo units this summer.

The 20-something best friends live one floor apart in the same building and work only a few minutes' walk away in the same office building.

Katharina Smutny (left) and Kaley Maksymyk are enjoying downtown living after moving into condos in the Exchange District this summer.

BORIS.MINKEVICH@FREEPRESS.MB.CA

Katharina Smutny (left) and Kaley Maksymyk are enjoying downtown living after moving into condos in the Exchange District this summer.

"Honestly, just living here has changed my perspective of downtown," Maksymyk, a former resident of East St. Paul, said. "I often thought where I would buy a house and settle down and a few years ago I never would have thought I'd be living downtown but I just think it's the best thing ever."

An unreleased survey by the Downtown Business Improvement Zone found 82 per cent of downtown residents feel safe in the area during the day, an improvement from similar surveys of a few years ago. However, those same residents are fearful of the night and some believe their vehicles are at risk around the clock.

Stefano Grande, executive director of the Downtown BIZ, says demand for apartments and condominium units downtown is continuing to increase, adding that any "fear factor" is outweighed by people like Maksymyk and Smutny, who want to live downtown.

"Judging by how quickly units are being snapped up, (safety) is not a concern," Grande said. "The Downtown residential population has increased significantly over the last 6 years — from 12,000 to 16,000 people. Most people that will want to live in downtown have a good understanding that living downtown is a different experience as opposed to living in Lindenwoods."

Smutny admitted that she was concerned about safety when her employer moved into the Exchange District in February. But Smutny said being downtown was such a positive experience that she opted to rent a condo close to her work June 1.

"When we first moved into (the area in February), I was a little iffy about safety," Smutny said. "But just being here for a while, it wasn't a concern when I actually moved into the condo."

Both young women said they don't feel safe walking alone in their new neighbourhood at night — echoing the BIZ's survey that found only 41 per cent of downtown residents said they feel safe at night.

"Not that I've ever seen anything happen, but just being a girl alone I wouldn't go outside by myself at night," Maksymyk said. "If I was with someone I'd probably feel safe."

"We have been tracking this for about six years so we are aware that this is a public perception," Grande said. That's "why we have created an overnight Watch patrol and are advocating for more police presence. And more residents will help."

Maksymyk said she never had any qualms about moving into the downtown and scored a great deal on her condo. In the month she's been living there, Maksymyk said she doesn't regret a thing about the move.

"The area is really beautiful. The area by the river is so nice," Maksymyk said. "Another reason is it's close to my work. I don't have to drive to work, I just walk.

aldo.santin@freepress.mb.ca

Aldo Santin

Aldo Santin
Reporter

Aldo Santin is a veteran newspaper reporter who first carried a pen and notepad in 1978 and joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1986, where he has covered a variety of beats and specialty areas including education, aboriginal issues, urban and downtown development. Santin has been covering city hall since 2013.

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