Recently at work I was involved in a heated argument about the dangers of being downtown.  My colleague vehemently insisted that Downtown Winnipeg is far too dangerous to walk alone, and after dark so full of knife-wielding maniacs that even groups of people should beware.  I disagreed.

I have been walking around downtown since 1994, when I moved to Winnipeg.  Back then the Exchange was full of prostitutes and down-and-outers asking for change.  I frequented the bars and movie theatres (Towne, Garrick) and spent significant amounts of time wandering both downtown and the Exchange because I didn’t have a car and I was often too cheap to get on the bus.  Why pay 75 cents when you can walk 15 blocks?  In all that time, I can only think of one incident where I felt afraid.

I had just gone to see “Pret-a-Porter” with a good friend at the Garrick theatre.  As we were walking towards Portage we noticed a very drunk aboriginal couple weaving their way towards us.  My friend grabbed onto my arm and tensed up as we got closer.  Our body language must have screamed out fear, because as we passed these two terrifying spectres of Winnipegs downtown, one of them shouted “Boo!”  We jumped out of our skins.  Then all four of us paused, looked at each other, and began to laugh hysterically.  Danger!  Drunk people having a good time!  Look out!

What I learned about myself in that one instance was profound:  I was a closet racist – or at least subscribed to a cultural perception of aboriginal people as dangerous and unpredictable.  The thing is, the more I thought about that moment the more I realized that I myself had spent (and would continue to spend) significant amounts of time on the same streets as drunk or drunker than the proverbial skunk.  I had vomited and urinated in the alleyways and streets of our fair downtown, and not once had anyone tensed up and projected fear towards me.  My preconception of what was and was not dangerous in Winnipeg was completely exploded.

My point is this: Winnipeg’s downtown is not only safe, and the suburban idea that it is dangerous is driven not by facts, but by racism.  Who frequents Portage Place and asks for money?  Primarily aboriginal peoples.  Why is this?  To me the answer is quite simple.  Aboriginal peoples make up a huge portion of the marginalized and poverty stricken in our city.  They live in the core and adjacent North End.  They recreate by heading downtown, to Portage Place.  Bus access is easy, they can hang out relatively undisturbed, and it is much safer on the street on Portage Avenue than on say, Selkirk, Flora, Euclid, or any of the North End/North Point Douglas streets.

All this is not to say that violent incidents do not occur downtown – they do.  When you look at any statistical analysis of this issue it is easy to see that the highest density of violent crime occurs downtown.  But what do the stats mean?  By and large crime density is determined per capita, and Winnipeg’s downtown has a lower population density than most other areas of the city.  Who lives downtown?  Almost no one.  But downtown is flooded with people every day to recreate and work.  Human contact increases dramatically downtown because there are large portions of human beings moving around and interacting.  And humanity being what it is (comprised, in my opinion, largely of assholes), shit goes down.  An offhand remark gets blown out of proportion, adrenaline surges, and all of a sudden violence ensues.  It is important to remember that most of these incidents are between people who know each other.  Muggings do happen, but they are far less frequent than Winnipeg Sun’s Brodbeck would have you believe.  You see, Brodbeck is a special kind of journalist – one who trades on human fear to put food on the table; a type of social anxiety vampire, if you will.  And Winnipeggers lap it up.

Bottom line is that as long as our fair city’s citizens believe that downtown is too dangerous to frequent, no one will go down there.  And no new businesses will open up.  And it will remain an urban embarrassment.  The Jets will have to play in a ghost town, and we can continue to moan about urban renewal without taking responsibility for it ourselves.  Get downtown.  Break the cycle of lies and misdirection that our local media outlets propagate.  See for yourself what is going on.  And remember, just because someone is brown doesn’t mean that they are going to gut you.

__

Brett Geisel is a writer and burgeoning columnist for Spectator Tribune. 

 For more, follow us at: @spectatortrib

  • Joseph Kornelsen

    Spot on. Winnipeg’s downtown and the relationship between aboriginal Canadians and non-aboriginal Canadians are two linked issues. We could go a long way to fixing downtown by improving that relationship. Or, of course, we could go the SHED route and just remove the aboriginal people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/yeung.adrienne Adrienne Yeung

    I agree with you that racism plays a large part in the idea that downtown is unsafe. But there was a lot in this article that I can’t relate to, either. You need to keep in mind that you’re writing from the perspective of a white male: as a young woman of Asian descent, my fear of walking around downtown at night – or anywhere in general – has just as much to do with the constant fear of being harrassed, followed, or raped by a man of any cultural background, as it may have to do with socialized racism.

    • violetstars

      Adrienne makes an extremely salient point. This article is all about how one white guy feels when he’s downtown. Which is fine, but not universal at all. Besides, white people are not usually victims of violence downtown — it’s indigenous and other peoples of colour who are. Hey, now THERE’s a slogan for the next BIZ poster — “White People! Come Downtown!”

      • WarOnMugs

        So wait, Asian women are usually the victims of violence downtown? I don’t deny that women often feel more vulnerable to violence/harassment — and often for a reason — but this is fairly universal unfortunately. Not really a statement about Winnipeg or its downtown.

    • Chris Kehler

      I’m glad this is settled.

      Generalizing about someone based on race: bad.

      Generalizing about someone based on gender: good!

      • Evolved One

        She was stating her fears, not stating that all men are “bad”.

        • Chris Kehler

          So if she would have said:

          “…it has just as much to do with the constant fear of being harrassed, followed, or raped by a Aborginal”

          That would have been OK?

          • Evolved One

            Dude, you are nitpicking…..she was only stating a reality that women the world over have to consider…..she was not saying that all men are bad.

          • Chris Kehler

            I’ll ask the question again. Please answer, yes or no:

            Would it be OK in your eyes if she would have said “…it has just as much to do with the constant fear of being harrassed, followed, or raped by an Aboriginal”

            Because the crux of this piece seems to be that fear based on perceptions of certain demographics of people is bad.

            Answer my question.

          • Evolved One

            Apples and oranges dude…..methinks you have an agenda here….BTW, I am not obligated to answer your question just because you petulantly demand as such from me.

          • Chris Kehler

            No… it isn’t For what it’s worth I’m against all forms of discrimination. Sexism, racism, homophobia, the whole gambit.

            It saddens me that you and the commenter are not.

          • Evolved One

            You read something into Ms. Yeung’s remark that is not there – she is not hating on men but rather stating a sad fact of reality for women the world over. You seem to have a problem with that reality.

          • Baveux

            No, Chris is right. The fear she feels when walking downtown of being raped is discriminatory against all men, and is as repugnant as the fear of downtown because of discrimination against the Aboriginal race.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kalen.leib Kalen Leib

            90% of rape victims are women. 94% of rape perpetrators are men. Your argument would only be valid of both of the above numbers were 50.

          • Evolved One

            Yep.

          • Evolved One

            Her fear has a strong basis. Would you be so ready to dismiss her fear if she were an Aboriginal Woman? I do not think I need to point out the higher instances of violence that particular group of women has to deal with at the hands of men or would that be too repugnant for you as well?

          • sourgrapes22

            Those who are weaker are prudent to feel fear. It’s a self-preservation instinct. Fear leads to cautious behaviour, and avoidance of perceived risk. Of course individuals must constantly reassess whether their fears are warranted, and choose to live with them.

          • http://www.facebook.com/kalen.leib Kalen Leib

            I know that young woman personally and believe me, she is a very intelligent person. She is not one to be taken by such dogmatic functions as you just listed.

  • az

    I’ve had my life threatened on multiple occasions in the past year alone, by aboriginal people every time, simply for being alone and being white. Even people much smaller than me calling me the white man and threatening to murder or beat the shit out of me. I’m not really afraid so I generally ignore it, but all it takes is one high as a kite to actually do it.

    The busier parts of downtown are fine if there’s others around, but as soon as you get to a part where there’s not many people, cross your fingers

    • http://wrenagain.blogspot.ca/ Wren

      I am a white woman and I walk around downtown at night very regularly. I have lived downtown for the last ten years. I have never once been threatened with any violence due to my race.

  • http://twitter.com/heyjturner James Turner

    You know, it’s funny.

    Each working day of my life I encounter/overhear the misery that is Winnipeg’s downtown. Just today was a sentencing for a chick who hauled off and punched another girl at Portage Place, another was a bail for a chronic sniffer out on probation who was intox in public, and yet another was for a guy who tried to choke a firefighter called to pick his pilled up ass up off a donut shop floor on St. Mary Ave. The firefighter had to hit the guy back to get him to lay off the choking. The guy then damaged the fire truck, costing the taxpayer for the repairs.

    Winnipeg is the homicide, stabbing and robbery capital of Canada. We’re #2 in violence towards women. Mental health and community services to assist the disadvantaged are stretched so thin they may as well not exist in many cases.

    Mr. Geisel, I’d suggest before you start pontificating about things — specifically the state of downtown Winnipeg — I suggest you get educated a little more about the reality.

    Spending a full day or two in courtroom 306 at the Law Courts — it’s free and open to the public — is eye-opening and would perhaps as a little needed reality check to your above views suggesting, in essence, that ‘all’s good’ in downtown.

    Sincerely,

    James Turner
    Social Anxiety Vampire/Crime reporter
    Winnipeg Sun

    • WarOnMugs

      Oh James. The writer did acknowledge the incidents that occur in Winnipeg’s downtown. Indeed there is violence, homelessness, intoxication — all the hallmarks of a modern city centre, much as you’d find in Edmonton, Toronto, Vancouver etc. Working in a courtroom, I assume you realize that all you see are the bad incidents. People don’t show up at those courts because they greeted someone on the street, passed by without incident, or enjoyed a meal downtown.

      In other words you’re seeing a completely skewed sample of the thousands of interactions of the thousands of people who live or work or pass through downtown every day. The point of the article was that Winnipeg’s downtown is assumed to be a dangerous place for the average person. I think Mr. Geisel is on the money here. His opinion holds up to my experience completely. Maybe try to get out of the courtroom a bit, and smell the roses sometimes.

    • http://www.facebook.com/brent.bellamy.12 Brent Bellamy

      err….a girl punched another girl in a mall?….a drunk tried to choke a fireman?…..run for your lives Winnipeggers!

      28 murders in the last 12 months….3 occurred downtown.

      Violent crime in the city is down 35% in the last 12 months. Robbery is down 31%. I wonder why that never gets reported by ‘crime reporters’? Not sexy enough? Imagine if it was a 35% increase? I can picture the Sun’s sensationalist headlines now.

      I wonder how often Mr. Turner actually goes downtown other than to the courthouse. Come for lunch one day. I’ll buy.

      No question Winnipeg has significant crime issues, but are they really downtown?…or are they somewhere else that you label downtown?

      Sometimes when one spends their life focussing on the trees, they no longer see the forest.

      • http://twitter.com/heyjturner James Turner

        Brent: ‘Sez who?’ Nice stats, where they from? Could it be the reason the ‘crime reporters’ [what's with the quotes?] don’t report the stats is they’re likely false and or misleading. As my post above suggests, I was referencing real-life scenarios that happen downtown, every day, each day. You attacking me personally is just typical downtown bizarro boosterism that isn’t helping, Brent. Get a clue.

  • Evolved One

    Ah, Euclid avenue is not dangerous. North Point Douglas, my home, is not dangerous….that myth must be shattered one of these days as my hood’ is changing rapidly and for the better.

    • http://www.facebook.com/gerhard.dehls Gerhard Dehls

      are you serious ask around there’s plenty of violence in Point Douglas I’ve had friends living down in that area for 25 years I’ve heard the stories and how about the woman last year who torched the house she was partying in killing 4 people …

      • Evolved One

        One torched crack house does not an entire ‘hood make….come on man. Why are you trashing Point Douglas or is that because you live (yes I know where you live but won’t say so) in an oh-so-chi-chi part of town now?

        Boy, have you ever changed.

        • http://www.facebook.com/gerhard.dehls Gerhard Dehls

          I have no problem with Point Douglas I have had a number of friends who lived there over the last 30 years I go there often but I also know people who have encounters violence over the years so let’s not gloss it over.

  • dzanke

    I have lived in the west Exchange District for 8 years and walk day and night downtown regularly. I get approached by panhandlers on occasion. Sometimes I give, sometimes I don’t. I have never been harassed or threatened. I don’t walk downtown by myself in the wee hours, but I didn’t do that when I lived in Crescentwood, either. I would never say that our downtown doesn’t have problems (like many other cities), but to say it is unsafe to walk it is ridiculous based on my experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/steve.lambert.7927 Steve Lambert

    Five minutes on Crimestat would have shown the writer that his entire premise is wrong. Crime is exponentially higher downtown than inn the suburbs. Not on a per-capita basis, as he dismissively suggests, but in real numbers.

  • Baveux

    The greatest problem Winnipeg has is that our ability to grow outwardly as a city will continue to impact our ability to maintain our core. As suburbia continues to expand, the costs of infrastructure continue to grow. If we want an upheaval of our downtown, our streets, our north end, and other neglected centers of the city, we need to stop expanding outwardly. Set a restriction on the city limits immediately so that we develop our core and stop spending on infrastructure around the edges where new development is. This will stop the ghost town feeling of downtown and revitalize our city.

    • Evolved One

      Your idea is not new…..it is called the doughnut theory, I believe once touted by Christopher Leo from U of Dubs…..everyone leaves the centre, moves to the burbs and nothing is left in the centre…..

  • http://www.facebook.com/kalen.leib Kalen Leib

    You just said it all. I no longer feel guilty. Thank you,

  • Sarah

    As someone who spent 5 years living in a “ghetto” of Montreal (I lived in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve), with loads of crack addicts, prostitutes, and others, I wonder how much of your experience depends on your body. I am a 5’4 woman, and I can tell you that even in Montreal, one of North America’s safest cities, I was accosted, followed, yelled at, and propositioned on a regular basis. I’ve pretended to be on the phone with a friend to deter people from following me, I have called and woken up friends at 2am just so that if something were to happen, someone would know where I was and could call 9-1-1. After the first few months I stopped going out alone after the sun went down, which incidentally was after 8:30pm in the summer, and around 4:30pm in the winter. (Afterwards I discovered routes that not many people took, and took those, and found that if I took my bicycle people were much less likely to follow me.) I’ve also spent a good deal of time working in bars, all around the city of Montreal, and I can tell you that most of the city is calm at night (there’s no one around to bother you, it’s actually quite serene.) But walking in my neighborhood, even though the rates of violence are low, and most of the crime was limited to drug consumption and prostitution, was always extremely stressful.

  • Jared Story

    I’m a white male who lives downtown. Mostly, my experiences have been positive, but I’m somewhat hesitant to walk around alone at night. On one instance I was mugged and beat up (by two white people). I’ve had aboriginal guys threaten to “roll me” for money. I’ve been harassed buying beer at the Windsor and the Balmoral, threatened with violence and in the Balmoral instance, had a woman who was with a group of very mean looking women, start touching my ass and go for my wallet. Had to high tail it out of there without my beer. I’ve even had guys outside of Gios and Club 200 yell obscene catcalls at me, which in each case didn’t really bother me, I found it funny, but for somebody else it could definitely be disturbing. I had a lit smoke thrown at me on purpose one time by MTS Centre. Walking by the St. Regis, I’ve had to dodge spit from the collection of characters that hang out in front. Not really dangerous, but it’s super gross.Then, there’s just the everyday aggressive pandhandling.

    All this being said, I do agree with Brett’s point that downtown is safer than Broadbeck or suburban Winnipeggers say it is. I don’t feel unsafe at all during the day. I don’t even feel that unsafe at night. That being said, I imagine I would have a different perspective if I was a woman. Although, I think that fear is somewhat constructed from racism or at least stereotyping, the rough looking appearance of much of our downtown folk and the unsettling crime, sexual assault and rape statistics, creating a constant fear and on guard mentality that may not actually be completely warranted.

  • sourgrapes22

    “I had vomited and urinated in the alleyways and streets of our fair downtown, and not once had anyone tensed up and projected fear towards me.”

    Just because you didn’t notice people’s avoidance of you when you were drunk, does not mean it didn’t occur. I avoid people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, OF EVERY RACE, equally. Being inebriated usually means people are more likely to lack good judgement, act unpredictably, and those are things to be wary of in a public place, especially if you are a vulnerable person. It is not race. It is behaviour.

  • Brynna Childs

    MEN RAPE THEIR CLASS AND DOWN. WHITE MALES ARE THE WORLD’S MOST SEXUALLY ABUSIVE. THIS ARTICLE IS RACIST. THIS ARTICLE SUPPORTS WHITE DOMINANCE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT AT ALL PLACE EMPHASIS ON THE REAL THREATS AND REALITIES THAT FACE WOMEN OF COLOUR AND STREET PROSTITUTED WOMEN WHO LIVE ON STREETS AND IN UNSAFE, ADDICTION-RIDDLED, MALE-DOMINANT ENVIRONMENTS. THIS ARTICLE DEMEANS REHABILITATIVE EFFORTS BY HARDWORKING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT DISMISSES INNER CITY PROBLEMS, BECAUSE THE AUTHOR HAS NO REAL UNDERSTANDING OR TRUE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF INNER CITY PROBLEMS, DISPLACEMENT, FEAR AND VULNERABILITY, AND THEREFOR SHOULD NOT BE WRITING ABOUT INNER CITY PROBLEMS WITH ANY CONFIDENCE OR AUTHORITY. I AM REVOLTED THAT THERE IS A POPULATION THAT IS IGNORANT ENOUGH TO DRAW ANY RESONANCE FROM THIS ARTICLE OR VIEW IT AS PROGRESSIVE, INTELLIGENT, OR KNOWLEDGABLE. IT IS NONE OF THESE THINGS- IT IS A SAD, DISRESPECTFUL, HATEFUL ATTEMPT AT EGO-DRIVEN, PSEUDO-HIP CULTURE WRITING THAT IS BLINDLY MISGUIDED TRASH. NOT TO MENTION IT IS PERPETRATING A HORRIBLE MODEL OF URBAN GENTRIFICATION AND CORE DEVELOPMENT THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER BAG OF GARBAGE THAT THE SUBURBAN AND RURAL POPULATION OF MANITOBA, IF THIS WRITER IS AT ALL REPRESENTATIVE OF THEM, ISN’T YET ABLE TO GRASP, EXPLORE OR UNDERSTAND. I INVITE YOU TO DIG YOUR HANDS INTO THAT BAG OF GARBAGE, I WOULD START HERE: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Housing/2011/12/14/DTES-tenants-being-squeezed/, HERE: http://2002.ksl.com/news-2860i.php?p=1, and HERE: http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/olympics-opportunity-cleanse-city/ THIS ARTICLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY AN ABORIGINAL PERSON AND IN THE SAME CONTEXT MAY HAVE BEEN A POSITIVE TEXT BRIDGING A DISTURBING GAP IN MANITOBAN SOCIETY. THE EDITOR HAS CHOSEN INSTEAD TO ALLOW FOR A BORING, UN-RESEARCHED PIECE OF WRITING WITH DISGUSTING AND REPEATED USE OF THE WORD “THEY.” AS A NEW RESIDENT OF WINNIPEG’S DOWNTOWN CORE, A SMALL BUSINESS PROPRIETOR AND FORMER AND DISPLACED RESIDENT OF VANCOUVER’S EASTSIDE NEIGHBOURHOODS, AS A FIRST-NATIONS PERSON, I WILL FORMALLY REVOLT AGAINST THE NOTION THAT THIS WRITING CONSTITUTES JOURNALISM: IT DOES NOT.

  • Brynna Childs

    Why was my response censored? No course language, only heavy criticism. Do you have a word limit? Does your punctuation guideline not allow for CAPS?

    • WarOnMugs

      Yeah, it was so censored you had to post it 4 times. Volume is no substitute for content, and honestly I have no interest in reading anything by such a bull-headed narcissist who believes everyone is out to censor her. Sad.

      • Brynna Childs

        actually, the comment bumped to the bottom- i was expecting it uptop- I didn’t realize it was reposting as guest- I have flagged the extraneous posts, but the admin hasn’t deleted them yet.

        • Brynna Childs

          And I think for 200 words I provided a decent amount of content including 3 news articles from different sources. So ya, whatever leave the extra comments, the first 3 sentences should probably be re-read by most of the population anyways- i’ll take looking like an idiot for that.

  • Guest

    Here goes again:

    MEN RAPE THEIR CLASS AND DOWN. WHITE MALES ARE THE WORLD’S MOST SEXUALLY ABUSIVE. THIS ARTICLE IS RACIST. THIS ARTICLE SUPPORTS WHITE DOMINANCE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT AT ALL PLACE EMPHASIS ON THE REAL THREATS AND REALITIES THAT FACE WOMEN OF COLOUR AND STREET PROSTITUTED WOMEN WHO LIVE ON STREETS AND IN UNSAFE, ADDICTION-RIDDLED, MALE-DOMINANT ENVIRONMENTS. THIS ARTICLE DEMEANS REHABILITATIVE EFFORTS BY HARDWORKING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT DISMISSES INNER CITY PROBLEMS, BECAUSE THE AUTHOR HAS NO REAL UNDERSTANDING OR TRUE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF INNER CITY PROBLEMS, DISPLACEMENT, FEAR AND VULNERABILITY, AND THEREFOR SHOULD NOT BE WRITING ABOUT INNER CITY PROBLEMS WITH ANY CONFIDENCE OR AUTHORITY. I AM REVOLTED THAT THERE IS A POPULATION THAT IS IGNORANT ENOUGH TO DRAW ANY RESONANCE FROM THIS ARTICLE OR VIEW IT AS PROGRESSIVE, INTELLIGENT, OR KNOWLEDGABLE. IT IS NONE OF THESE THINGS- IT IS A SAD, DISRESPECTFUL, HATEFUL ATTEMPT AT EGO-DRIVEN, PSEUDO-HIP CULTURE WRITING THAT IS BLINDLY MISGUIDED TRASH. NOT TO MENTION IT IS PERPETRATING A HORRIBLE MODEL OF URBAN GENTRIFICATION AND CORE DEVELOPMENT THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER BAG OF GARBAGE THAT THE SUBURBAN AND RURAL POPULATION OF MANITOBA, IF THIS WRITER IS AT ALL REPRESENTATIVE OF THEM, ISN’T YET ABLE TO GRASP, EXPLORE OR UNDERSTAND. I INVITE YOU TO DIG YOUR HANDS INTO THAT BAG OF GARBAGE, I WOULD START HERE: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Housing/2011/12/14/DTES-tenants-being-squeezed/, HERE: http://2002.ksl.com/news-2860i.php?p=1, and HERE: http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/olympics-opportunity-cleanse-city/ THIS ARTICLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY AN ABORIGINAL PERSON AND IN THE SAME CONTEXT MAY HAVE BEEN A POSITIVE TEXT BRIDGING A DISTURBING GAP IN MANITOBAN SOCIETY. THE EDITOR HAS CHOSEN INSTEAD TO ALLOW FOR A BORING, UN-RESEARCHED PIECE OF WRITING WITH DISGUSTING AND REPEATED USE OF THE WORD “THEY.” AS A NEW RESIDENT OF WINNIPEG’S DOWNTOWN CORE, A SMALL BUSINESS PROPRIETOR AND FORMER AND DISPLACED RESIDENT OF VANCOUVER’S EASTSIDE NEIGHBOURHOODS, AS A FIRST-NATIONS PERSON, I WILL FORMALLY REVOLT AGAINST THE NOTION THAT THIS WRITING CONSTITUTES JOURNALISM: IT DOES NOT.

  • Brynna Childs

    MEN RAPE THEIR CLASS AND DOWN. WHITE MALES ARE THE WORLD’S MOST SEXUALLY ABUSIVE. THIS ARTICLE IS RACIST. THIS ARTICLE SUPPORTS WHITE DOMINANCE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT AT ALL PLACE EMPHASIS ON THE REAL THREATS AND REALITIES THAT FACE WOMEN OF COLOUR AND STREET PROSTITUTED WOMEN WHO LIVE ON STREETS AND IN UNSAFE, ADDICTION-RIDDLED, MALE-DOMINANT ENVIRONMENTS. THIS ARTICLE DEMEANS REHABILITATIVE EFFORTS BY HARDWORKING PEOPLE BECAUSE IT DISMISSES INNER CITY PROBLEMS, BECAUSE THE AUTHOR HAS NO REAL UNDERSTANDING OR TRUE LIVED EXPERIENCE OF INNER CITY PROBLEMS, DISPLACEMENT, FEAR AND VULNERABILITY, AND THEREFOR SHOULD NOT BE WRITING ABOUT INNER CITY PROBLEMS WITH ANY CONFIDENCE OR AUTHORITY. I AM REVOLTED THAT THERE IS A POPULATION THAT IS IGNORANT ENOUGH TO DRAW ANY RESONANCE FROM THIS ARTICLE OR VIEW IT AS PROGRESSIVE, INTELLIGENT, OR KNOWLEDGABLE. IT IS NONE OF THESE THINGS- IT IS A SAD, DISRESPECTFUL, HATEFUL ATTEMPT AT EGO-DRIVEN, PSEUDO-HIP CULTURE WRITING THAT IS BLINDLY MISGUIDED TRASH. NOT TO MENTION IT IS PERPETRATING A HORRIBLE MODEL OF URBAN GENTRIFICATION AND CORE DEVELOPMENT THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER BAG OF GARBAGE THAT THE SUBURBAN AND RURAL POPULATION OF MANITOBA, IF THIS WRITER IS AT ALL REPRESENTATIVE OF THEM, ISN’T YET ABLE TO GRASP, EXPLORE OR UNDERSTAND. I INVITE YOU TO DIG YOUR HANDS INTO THAT BAG OF GARBAGE, I WOULD START HERE: http://thetyee.ca/Blogs/TheHook/Housing/2011/12/14/DTES-tenants-being-squeezed/, HERE: http://2002.ksl.com/news-2860i.php?p=1, and HERE: http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/olympics-opportunity-cleanse-city/ THIS ARTICLE SHOULD HAVE BEEN WRITTEN BY AN ABORIGINAL PERSON AND IN THE SAME CONTEXT MAY HAVE BEEN A POSITIVE TEXT BRIDGING A DISTURBING GAP IN MANITOBAN SOCIETY. THE EDITOR HAS CHOSEN INSTEAD TO ALLOW FOR A BORING, UN-RESEARCHED PIECE OF WRITING WITH DISGUSTING AND REPEATED USE OF THE WORD “THEY.” AS A NEW RESIDENT OF WINNIPEG’S DOWNTOWN CORE, A SMALL BUSINESS PROPRIETOR AND FORMER AND DISPLACED RESIDENT OF VANCOUVER’S EASTSIDE NEIGHBOURHOODS, AS A FIRST-NATIONS PERSON, I WILL FORMALLY REVOLT AGAINST THE NOTION THAT THIS WRITING CONSTITUTES JOURNALISM: IT DOES NOT.

  • AK

    Appreciated both this article and its comments. It’s clear we must continuously strive to be aware of and take responsibility for our subconscious habits that may in fact be discriminatory.

    Hang out downtown! Be respectful. Smile!

  • rob

    This guy is joking right? I and my wife have been living downtown for 3 years. What he and others don’t know is that most crimes downtown that occur and are reported never make it in to the news or police newsfeed.
    Here’s what I’ve experienced living downtown:
    Apt broken into 2 times, 2 more attempts. Numerous apartments in the area broken into according to my friends and neighbors.
    Crazy neighbors trying to kick in my door at least 2-3 times without anyone provoking them
    Wife had knife pulled on her
    Wife had guy try to run her over with bike and snatch her purse
    Cars where we live broken in to probably at least 100 times that I know of, lost count of how many times i have seen/heard this in my neighborhood.
    Friend of wife’s got beaten up by the Legislative building at 10 am in the morning “for fun” from 2 white guys
    Been propositioned/threatened on an average from street people at least once a month
    I notice no one in the government or most people working downtown live here and I’ve had several tell me they won’t for the exact reasons given above.
    We live in what should be a great neighborhood, condos, legislative grounds, Osborne Village close by. Yet a lot of the apartment buildings here take just anyone and I have seen graffiti and obvious gang members roaming around at all hours. And don’t get me started about how neighbors have wild parties, blast music at all hours and take their parties outside to the alleys in back of the buildings. Yeesh, who in their right minds wants to party by a dumpster or where you can get hit by cars? Obviously a lot of people if you come look around here at night.
    Moved downtown from the North End because we had been told this was a great location for being close to everything and it really is safe. Well not true and I will be moving out of here soon as I am fed up with all the “promises” that the area is being improved and people saying how great it all is, but NOT living here which I bet this reporter doesn’t. He also puts down the other guy, Brodbeck, for speaking the truth about this place. Only part he got right was the native part, excepting a handful of incidents I’ve experienced almost all were done by white guys; I have found the natives overall to be pretty chill and easy-going.
    I think the main problem downtown is it’s a desirable location for drug dealers and criminal types who do everything they can to get into the housing around this area so they can reach a wide base of customers and they in turn bring in undesirables. When landlords and homeowners start screening their tenants/potential buyers as carefully as they would buying a new car instead of just going for the easy money/filling a quota/THEN the scene might improve.
    For anyone who wants to know, the main drug trade is Portage Place and Osborne and River. If you live around those areas within a 10 mile radius I guarantee you it’s not going to be safe and the “safe or greatest neighborhood label” is a crock. I found this out after I moved in and was stunned by what I was seeing. So let this guy put his mouth in a downtown apartment complex like, say, Place Promenade and then get back to everyone a year later on how it’s such a “safe” place–I notice he says nothing about living here. Yes, coming downtown to shop and work is one thing as one is in a building most of that time, but actually living here is another thing entirely.