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Canstar Community News
The community organization Point Powerline has issued its third report on making downtown Winnipeg safer and friendlier by focusing on addressing the root causes of poverty and crime.
In December, the Manitoba Police Commission released a report on improving downtown safety that Point Powerline co-ordinator and community activist Sel Burrows called "seriously flawed."
In response to the MPC report, Burrows’ organization has issued three reports laying out what it views as a better path forward.
"Unfortunately there is a tendency to identify stand-alone answers to problems such as crime and lack of civility in our downtown. Our experience in tackling crime in our community of North Point Douglas includes a broad cross-section of actions," reads the report.
"Part three (of our report) identifies several actions that can be addressed that can be considered ‘root causes’ of crime. These are not all of the root causes but they are ones we feel can be solved if government and civil society focus their efforts."
The report identifies a number of issues requiring attention: improving school attendance; providing youth from disadvantaged backgrounds with summer-job experience; cracking down on money laundering; and preventing Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
In addition, the group calls for recommendations in a recent tri-government Illicit Drug Task Force to be implemented.
Point Powerline is also calling for an expansion of social services so they can operate during the evenings and weekends. The group says Winnipeggers cannot leave all of the work to police if they want to make downtown safer.
"We have a large, well-trained number of social workers and other social service delivery staff who are working office hours of 8:30 (a.m.) to 4:20 (p.m.), Monday to Friday, while much of the non-criminal behaviour that requires intervention is happening in the evening, night and on weekends," the report reads.
"Both to more effectively deal with situations such as mental health issues and to relieve the police from having to deal with situations that are not criminal in nature we need to switch social service working hours to cover evenings and weekends, with social workers starting at different hours to cover the work period."
Part one of the Point Powerline report focused on the need for downtown residents to identify and report crime, while part two looked existing resources that could be used to combat crime.
"It is possible to reduce the level of crime in our downtown. No one is satisfied living in the crime capital of Canada," the report reads.
"However, unless the various groups and governments working on the issue pay attention to some of the root causes of poverty and crime... efforts are bound to fail and no one wants this crucial problem to continue."
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
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