Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, September 18, 2019 5:58PM CST
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is directing the province’s police commission to find ways to make downtown Winnipeg safer.
Justice Minister Cliff Cullen has asked the commission to investigate measures that include increased foot patrols, security cameras and increased lighting.
He’s also asked the commission to work with the private sector to come up with solutions.
An initial report is to be provided to the government in November.
Police data shows violent crime in the area increased by 10 per cent last year and property crime went up by 22 per cent.
A police survey from 2017 also indicated 84 per cent of Winnipeggers — and 90 per cent of women — felt unsafe walking alone downtown at night.
“No Manitoban should feel unsafe taking their family to a Jets game or walking to their car at night,” Cullen said at a news conference Wednesday.
Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth has said a methamphetamine crisis is causing an epidemic of violence.
He sent a candid internal memo to officers in July expressing frustration with a lack of addictions resources. He said it was a problem policing could not solve alone.
The Addictions Foundation of Manitoba has said meth use has increased by more than 100 per cent in adults and nearly 50 per cent in youth since 2014.
Cullen said the government has other initiatives targeting education and treatment around addictions.
Commission chairman David Asper said it will start by focusing on measures suggested by the justice minister.
“The Manitoba Police Commission can’t solve the social condition. We’ve been asked to focus on a number of things that relate specifically to safety first,” he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 18, 2019.