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To put it nicely, the late night scene in Winnipeg isn’t exactly top-notch.
With mostly watering holes and greasy burger joints open until late, our city’s nocturnal notions are nowhere near as dynamic as those in other Canadian urban centers like Toronto and Vancouver.
Those metropolises have upscale eateries open until 4 a.m. or can maintain literal underground subcultures thanks to vast infrastructure, like in Montreal’s Underground City.
Winnipeg can’t really compare in that realm.
Of course, our size is always a factor to take into account. Not to mention the fact that we’re blanketed in three-foot snowdrifts six months of the year.
Let’s face it: we are world famous for our booty shaking at the Palomino Club and that’s about it.
Our indignation as the murder capital of Canada doesn’t exactly lure suburbanites downtown.
Though the popularity of the Jets has done wonders in reinvigorating businesses (namely restaurants) and attracting new clientele to the core, price inflations and skyrocketing rent costs have also driven many small businesses to the brinks of bankruptcy.
Also, there’s a drastic difference between visiting downtown on the night of a home game at the MTS Centre, and perusing Portage Avenue any other night of the year- it’s a ghost town by comparison.
Though downtown has been highly stigmatized as a dangerous area to be after dark, in reality all of Winnipeg seems pretty unsafe once the sun sets, especially as of late.
As a former resident of South St. Vital, I would no longer feel as safe in my native neighborhood as I did when growing up, due to increased crime rates and murder reports in recent years.
Walking around downtown seems almost less risky by comparison, since policing is more frequent and transportation is more readily available.
Reconfiguring Winnipeg’s public transit system by having buses that run later into the night would be an easy first step in improving the city’s safety.
Considering most nightclubs or liquor-serving establishments close their doors at 2 a.m. and bus routes run only until about 1:30 a.m. in most cases, extending transit service hours until at least 3 a.m. seems like a no-brainer - one that could also help tackle issues of drinking and driving.
Having a public transit system that leaves tipsy travellers stranded after dusk seems a surefire way to deter Winnipeggers from enjoying the amenities of downtown.
Since cab fare can be outside of one’s price range and many don’t have the luxury of appointing a designated driver, late-night public transit needs to be a priority for the City of Winnipeg in ensuring their citizens get home safely after a night on the town.
Part of the series: The Urban Issue 2013
Published in Volume 67, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 28, 2013)