City admits problem with downtown boozing

As referenced my post from earlier today – about the plans from CentreVenure for a “four district model” of a revitalized downtown – the agency (and therefore the city) finally makes a tacit admission that selling booze out of vendors at hotels on Garry Street at 9 a.m. has had an impact.

From CBC News:

” The city said a key part of the proposal will be addressing safety and “public comfort” by developing a public safety plan for the four districts and working with the provincial government to “resolve the impact” beverage rooms and a handful of low-rent hotels have on the area.

Many business owners on north Portage have complained about public intoxication, vagrancy and panhandling that accompanies the sale of liquor in the area.”

Good to hear at least the problem isn’t being totally ignored. It’s a miserable one. Office workers on Garry have told me about the hassles just getting into work in the morning.

You step outside for fresh air at your own risk…

Thanks to all who wrote in with comments on Facebook and here at the blog.

Licencing Mayhem

Google Maps

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!