The more things change in Winnipeg’s Mynarski ward the more they remain the same.

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This article was published 13/10/2010 (3899 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The more things change in Winnipeg’s Mynarski ward the more they remain the same.

Despite the fact that voters in the ward will soon elect a new councillor to replace Harry Lazarenko as the area’s representative, the issues facing the region remain unchanged.

Candidates in the current civic election say they have been peppered with questions about crime and safety everywhere they go on the campaign trail.

Statistical evidence appears to back-up those concerns.

With the exception of downtown Winnipeg, the northwest area of the city leads most other neighbourhoods when it comes to serious crime including homicides, shootings, robberies and sexual assaults. A vast majority of these crimes were reported in the Mynarski ward.

Forty-five sexual assaults have occurred in the area to date this year. That represents an increase of 137% compared to the same period for last year.

Of the 47 shootings reported in the city this year, 28 occurred in northwest Winnipeg.

Candidate John Petrinka acknowledged that crime is a serious concern in the ward, but said most of the problems are confined to a small portion of the region.

"We’re really talking about four or five blocks north of the rail line," he said.

Fellow candidate David Polsky agreed. He said that Selkirk and Redwood avenues have become real trouble spots.

"Selkirk Avenue for example has to be a place where people know they can be safe on," he said.

Candidate Trevor Mueller said most residents living south of Mountain Avenue have told him that crime is their only major concern in this election.­

Candidate Jenny Motkaluk said crime is the first thing residents mention when she talks with them face-to-face. Part of the problem, she said, is that many of them are apprehensive about dealing with police.

"Because police are dealing with crisis or in the midst of a serious situation, there is a level of aggression that comes when interacting with them," she said.

"There should be an officer on every block getting to know the area."

Petrinka said an increased police presence won’t necessarily reduce crime in the area.

"Economic creation and generation has to happen for people to have real economic alternatives to committing crimes," he said, adding that a proposal to replace the 450-acre CPR rail yard with an urban reserve would be a step in the right direction.

Candidate Greg Littlejohn said that many of the voters he has spoken to aren’t advocating for more officers on the street. They simply want the police to be more visible in the community, he said.

"Police need to be more on the ground, in the neighbourhoods, connecting to the people in the area who live there," he said.

Polsky said new technology might offer another solution to the problem.

"Surveillance cameras have proven to be effective in other cities, why not here?" he said.

Candidate Ross Eadie said less bureaucracy, not necessarily more cops, is needed to address the crime issue.

"The North End is not a crime disaster, and neighbourhood police should be deciding where they are needed the most," he said, adding that the Winnipeg Police Service should release more statistics on violent crimes to members of the public.