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Premier addresses businesses in downtown Winnipeg, reaffirms commitment to safety

On Friday, Premier Wab Kinew addressed business owners who set up shop in downtown Winnipeg, and shared his government’s plans to revitalize the area.

Aimee Peake, owner of Bison Books on Graham Avenue, said crime in the downtown area is becoming more prevalent.

“We’ve started to see people come in and just brazenly steal things. And our windows get broken sometimes, certainly with more frequency than they ever have in my tenure downtown,” she said.

However, she was encouraged by the commitments outlined by Premier Wab Kinew at an event held by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

The premier reaffirmed his commitments to end chronic homelessness, making downtown safer, and increasing economic activity.

“Our future success as a provincial economy is going to be tied very strongly to how well and how healthy Winnipeg’s downtown is,” he said.

Along with reiterating previous promises to create more social housing, Kinew suggested his government might require some public employees to return to the office in order improve workplace cultures for front-line staff.

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Kate Fenske, CEO of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ said they’ll be working with governments to create long-term solutions so that the area can be made safer, and attract more people.

“How can we work together for some of those long-term investments and solutions around housing, public spaces, green spaces, parks and really creating that vibrant downtown? That’s what we want to focus on,” Fenske said.

Peake particularly wants to see more investment in police foot patrols and the Downtown Community Safety partnership, she said, adding those supports made her feel safe when her business was broken into when she was out of town.

“The officer, who I know by name because he’s in here all the time, called me. It felt very old-fashioned, and it really gave me a sense of community, and that I was being looked after, and that my shop was safe even when I’m not here,” she said.

Kinew said his government will follow through on the previous government’s investment in those resources, while also expanding investment to tackle the root causes of crime.

with files from Global’s Katherine Dornian

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