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It was more than a year ago that I wrote about how business owners on the north east section of Portage Avenue felt as if the MLCC – Manitoba’s liquor commission – were ‘licencing mayhem’ by allowing beverage rooms and low-rent hotels (usually housed in the same building) to sell cheap king cans of beer to people starting at 9 in the morning and throughout the day.

They were tired, they said, of the rampant drunkenness, vagrancy, fights, threats and hooliganism and public urination.

The above map shows just a few of the places in the heart of downtown where booze is available cheap and early.

In Today’s FP,  we see that there’s a new plan to save downtown courtesy of CentreVenture, the city’s downtown development agency.

A key feature to this plan is:

an 11-block sports, hospitality and entertainment district, or SHED, would encompass the MTS Centre, the Winnipeg Convention Centre, the Metropolitan Theatre and the Burton Cummings Theatre. It would be designated a tax-increment financing zone, which is an area where property tax revenues from new development can be used to help fund even more development. —-Kives

And it sounds great to a guy who has no head for numbers.

But I’d just want to add that prior to doing this, the city should first consider making the area a ‘zero-tolerance’ zone for public intoxication, panhandling and vagrancy. That means, to start, no more cheap booze sold to anyone, at any time, period.

We could look at the Minneapolis example of how officials — with help from corporations — completely revamped the Nicollet Mall, once a haven for petty crime and drug dealing — and turned it back into a favoured destination for tourism and other folk in the city.

Until these crime-related issues are addressed first, no amount of boutique hotels or TIF zones will make people go downtown and stay downtown – especially after 5:30 or 6 p.m.

Currently, you cannot walk from Portage Place [a notorious drug-dealing hub for street gangs] to the Richardson Building without being hassled by someone wanting something, change, a smoke, whatever. Often, the hasslers come in packs.

These beverage rooms and hotels are simply feeder zones that fuel the downtown’s demise. And we allow them to stay open.

Unless this changes, nothing else will, I suspect.

UPDATE: Steve Lambert of the Canadian Press news agency sends this link via Facebook:

Here’s a slide that shows the income levels of downtown Winnipeg residents:http://img.slidefinder.net/imagegethandler.axd?id=5753703&size=2″

Thanks, Steve!

3 thoughts on “Licencing Mayhem

  1. “James: couldn’t agree more with your comments. I can tell you from first-hand experience, nearly ALL crime downtown is fueled by alcohol and other intoxicants. Police can’t do much except for temporary detainments at the Main Street Project (75 Martha). [edited], taking their fuel away may help alleviate the devastating influences these people have on the safety, image and prosperity of our downtown.

    Again, great post.”

    ————-Via FaceBook poster Shaun McLeod

  2. “The City of Winnipeg does not give a fuck about the downtown. Not one single fuck. After 10 years in the hood, I can see that the city relentlessly takes credit for positive things it did not do while kicking out the legs from the people who did them. IMO, there is no hope for this city’s core because the friends of our leaders live in Whyte Ridge.”

    ———Via Facebook poster, Mike W.

  3. “Having lived in several different cities and provinces over the years, the thing that strikes me about Winnipeg’s downtown is that is has a high concentration of social housing right smack in the areas where the city would like to attract people.

    Saskatoon, for example, has next to no social housing in the core, and you can walk around the MidTown Plaza area and go to a pub after work without seeing one panhandler or intoixicated person or streetfight.

    Here’s a slide that shows the income levels of downtown Winnipeg residents:
    http://img.slidefinder.net/imagegethandler.axd?id=5753703&size=2

    With proper zoning bylaws (restaurants, small retail) you could create a “fun” area like Montreal’s Ste. Catherine’s St, which has more life at 1 a.m. than Portage at 4 p.m. Maybe something like Osborne Village but in the downtown area and concentrated enough to create a critical mass. If I were king for a day, I’d make Graham Ave a pedestrian-only area for a few blocks around the library/MTS Centre and encourage a few more restos/bars to replace level parking lots.”

    ——-From Steve Lambert of the Canadian Press, Via Facebook

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