WINNIPEG – a new foot patrol ambassador program being established by the Osborne Village Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) will benefit from $30,000 in civic support during its initial year of operations Mayor Brian Bowman announced today.

“Safety ambassador and foot patrol programs operated by business improvement zones are a highly visible, well understood, and effective safety resource,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I am pleased to assist the Osborne Village BIZ with establishing their first foot patrol program which has been identified as a high priority for their members as well as residents living in the area.”

The City of Winnipeg has sixteen different business improvement zones. Each is responsible for beautifying, improving, and promoting economic development within their zones, and is funded through the collection of business improvement levies. In addition to the $30,000 in support announced today, the Osborne Village BIZ has allocated $27,000 toward the cost of establishing the new foot patrol ambassador program.

“We have worked very hard the past two years to crunch an already small budget in order to save the funds to establish the foot patrol,” said Stephanie Meilleur, Executive Director, Osborne Village BIZ. “Now having the additional support from the City, we are able to launch the patrol program earlier than planned and extend the operational hours. Our ambassadors will be a changing force for the Osborne Village, and will have the ability to work closely with the Winnipeg Police Service and intervention organizations to help deal with real issues.”

The Osborne Village BIZ foot patrol ambassador program will become the fourth program of its kind operated by Winnipeg BIZs.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bowman announced $30,000 in additional funding to enhance existing safe walk and foot patrol programs operated by each of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ, the West End BIZ, and the Exchange District BIZ representing a total investment of $90,000. These programs, each uniquely structured according to the needs of the neighbourhood being served, will use this funding to enhance services this year through a combination of expanded operational hours, additional staff, and upgraded equipment and training.

“Safety patrols, like the one being developed by the Osborne Village BIZ, can provide a critical link between residents and the police, and can be a reassuring presence for many residents,” said Mayor Bowman. “I am pleased we were able to support the work of existing foot patrol and ambassador programs by bolstering their programming this year, and also help introduce a new program in Osborne Village.”

Mayor Bowman emphasized that as Winnipeg’s population continues to grow, the safety of Winnipeg’s residents remains paramount.

“Everyone deserves a chance to thrive and grow, and they need a community that celebrates all those who choose Winnipeg as their home,” said Mayor Bowman. “Most importantly, all Winnipeggers need to feel accepted and safe.”

In his State of the City Address earlier this spring, Mayor Bowman announced several safety initiatives including the establishment this year by the Winnipeg Police Service of a formal Illicit Drug Strategy. Mayor Bowman also committed to leading discussions later this year with frontline agencies including police, city planners, social and health professionals to find ways to reduce aggressive panhandling in the city, and to working with the Police Board, police department, privacy professionals, and the Ombudsman’s office to explore how the Transportation Management Centre’s traffic cameras can be leveraged to strengthen public safety.

Mayor Bowman also noted the 2018 City of Winnipeg budget, adopted by Council in December, recommended the development of a multi-year downtown public safety strategy using funds available in the Destination Marketing Reserve.

The funding announced today in support for the Osborne Village BIZ foot patrol ambassador program is being provided through the City of Winnipeg’s Civic Initiatives Fund. The new foot patrol ambassador program is scheduled to begin operations at the beginning of May.