One year after the Manitoba government invested $5 million in the Downtown Community Safety Partnership (DCSP), the not-for-profit organization has grown its partnerships and community service to create a healthier, safer and more connected downtown community, Justice Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.
“The Downtown Community Safety Partnership interacts with and provides support to downtown Winnipeg’s vulnerable population in a way that police cannot,” said Friesen. “Our government is proud to support the DCSP, which in just one year has mobilized three outreach teams that provide 24-7 culturally appropriate support in a community-centred way.”
The DCSP has now fully mobilized the MAC247 (Mobile Assist and Connect) team, which brings an additional presence and ensures a continuum of cohesive support and non-emergency response to the downtown community, and complements the work of the CONNECT and Community Outreach Advocacy Resource (COAR) teams.
MAC247 members perform social needs assessments and engage other agencies and services, including the COAR team as required, supporting the safety and wellness of those in the downtown area. Members can also administer advanced first aid for non-emergency situations to allow for more effective and timely response, and alleviate some of the current demands on 911 and police, fire and paramedic services.
Together, the three teams work to ensure appropriate assessment and management of calls and interactions to deliver services best suited to the nature of the situation, a key facet of effecting long-term change for individuals and the entire downtown community, Friesen noted.
“Our government has recently provided a second staff member to the DCSP from the Department of Families that will aid in connecting clients to social service programs and supports,” Families Minister Rochelle Squires said. “We’re proud that we’ve been able to be a part of this successful program.”
The DCSP teams have had a significant impact in the core over the past year with over 2,000 well-being checks, over 100 medical assistance events, more than 450 housing referrals, over 280 case-management meetings, over 220 courtesy/safe walks and providing assistance to more than 60 individuals to obtaining identification documentation.
“Having all three of our DCSP outreach teams mobilized is a big first step for us in ensuring a continuum of care downtown,” said Mitch Bourbonniere, Community Outreach Liaison for the DCSP. “Organic interactions and really getting to know people are foundational to building a healthy downtown community, and that’s exactly what our DCSP teams are doing as they connect with citizens and grassroots organizations.”
Established in April 2020, the DCSP was designed based on the government-commissioned Downtown Safety Report, which reviewed many models in the U.S. and Canada, to create an entirely Winnipeg model. The DCSP is proactively working to better link the diverse downtown community, and grow partnerships and community service to create a healthy, safe and connected downtown Winnipeg community, Bourbonniere noted.
The DCSP is working in partnership with United Way’s 211 Manitoba, where the public can call 211 with any concerns regarding non-urgent safety and wellness needs of those in the downtown area. Service navigators for 211 will then trigger the involvement of the DCSP response team, while also being a resource to the DCSP team to help ensure Winnipeggers facing challenges are connected in a timely way with appropriate resources and supports.
Friesen noted the Downtown Community Safety Partnership team also recently launched a website and downtown safety app, which features resources to enhance personal safety while in the downtown area, including safety contact numbers for various downtown organizations, location identification services, maps and guides to help navigate downtown services and amenities.
Users can access Friend Walk, which allows them to send their locations to a friend so they can watch them walk to their destinations in real time, and Courtesy Walk, which contacts a CONNECT team member who can accompany users to their car, bus stop or office.
“We’re excited about the steps that have been taken over the last year with the DCSP, as we can now provide 24-hour service to those who need it, while also giving citizens the resources to support themselves through our website and app,” said Greg Burnett, Executive Director for the DCSP. “We know that we are only scratching the surface of our goals in the downtown area though, and look forward to building many more meaningful partnerships and relationships as we strive for a healthier, safer and more connected downtown.”
More information about the Downtown Community Safety Partnership is available at DCSP.ca.