As Winnipeg continues to feel the effects of increased crime in the city, Global News is diving into concerns felt by local residents. In week two of our six-week series, we highlight concerns felt by Fort Rouge – East Fort Garry residents.
West Broadway is known for its revitalization from an inner city neighbourhood to a vibrant area within Winnipeg.
The neighbourhood’s recent spunk has attracted new restaurants and shops, attracting more Winnipeggers to the area.
“There’s no other neighbourhood like West Broadway in the city,” Sara Atnikov of the West Broadway BIZ said, beaming with a smile.
But while many business owners in Winnipeg say they feel safe in the area, Atnikov knows the area isn’t immune to Winnipeg’s increasing crime.
“Definitely some of the challenges that I’ve seen, that I think are pretty universal throughout the city right now, safety is definitely an issue, ” Atnikov said.
Safety is an issue that long-standing business owner Mike Williams of Korner Stop Foods, knows all too well.
“I’ve been here 40 years. The 1980s were crazy, the 1980s were robberies, but the mid-’90s were a bit better,” Williams said.
“The 2000s were great. There were all types of restaurants open, creating a lot of traffic, and the traffic creates safety … but the last couple of years have been the worst I’ve ever seen.”
Williams said he loses between $50 to $60 a day in theft from his store.
“The rise of crime and theft in this store is up at least 200 per cent over the last two years compared to any other time,” Williams said.
While Williams feels the crime has become worse, Atnikov said many of those concerns are magnified.
“I think because it is so small and because it does have that neighbourhood feel that things are amplified,” she said.
Since opening his store in 1980, Williams said he keeps a bat hidden in his store as a safety precaution.
“It’s something to protect myself, because a lot of them, most of them, carry knives, the odd one will carry a gun and I’m not going to argue with that,” Williams said. “The bottom line is you’ve got to protect what’s yours.”
He’s only used the bat once in the ’80s, but fears if crime continues to rise, he may be forced to use it a second time.
“With the people using meth, the needles, watching them out the window and you can see them doing it.”
Atkinov said The Bear Clan has been patrolling the area for just over a year, adding while the are needles in the area, she credits the group for recovering items that would not have been found without their help.
“They’re [The Bear Clan] interacting with people, and they’re building relationships, and that’s something a foot-patroller or police don’t necessarily do,” Atkinov said.
While Atkinov acknowledges crime exists in West Broadway, because the community is so tight-knit, it allows business owners like Williams to look out for each other.
“When something happens to a business on Sherbrook, there’s a very good chance that Maryland, Spence or Langside will hear about it.”
“News travels fast in a small town, news travels fast in West Broadway,” said Atnikov.
And it’s the friendliness in the area that barber Walter Spooner said will keep him the area for years to come.
“There’s definitely a lot of traffic in the area, but maybe it feels safer because everyone knows each other,” Spooner said.
Global’s Malika Karim takes a look at one West Broadway group working to improve the lives of local young people, watch below.
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