West End BIZ AGM discusses safety improvements, diversity

The West End BIZ is incorporating new priorities, like security, to their operations after their annual general meeting earlier this month. Mark Reimer

Winnipeg’s West End is alive with parks, multi-ethnic storefronts and safety patrols, all thanks to the West End Business Improvement Zone (BIZ), which held its annual general meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, Nov. 17 at DeLuca’s Restaurant.

At the AGM, over 100 people from various local businesses expressed the need to target derelict buildings and graffiti, increase safety and emphasize ethnic diversity in the community, said Gloria Cardwell-Hoeppner, executive director of the West End BIZ.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said, adding that the West End is slowly becoming a desirable neighbourhood and cultural hot spot around a multicultural theme, similar to “theme districts” like Corydon Avenue, Osborne Village and St. Boniface.

As such, the AGM focused in part on programs like The Gateway, an infrastructure development on Ellice Avenue between Balmoral Street and Spence Street, which acts as an entrance to the culturally rich West End community, with flags displaying “welcome” in 16 different languages.

The “international village” model supported by the BIZ will stretch from Ellice Avenue and Balmoral Street right up to Arlington Street, Cardwell-Hoeppner said.

“Businesses go where the traffic is,” she said. “But it’s not something that happens overnight. Any of the theme districts were developed over time.”

Additionally, businesses represented at the AGM want to beef up the West End BIZ patrol program, which commissions security personnel to act as the “eyes and ears” of the neighbourhood.

Morris Henoch is the owner of Able Wholesale, a large wholesale supplier that moved to the West End after the previous store, located on Higgins Avenue, was ravaged by vandals in 2006.

At the AGM, Henoch discussed the importance of safety in the community.

“It’s just a matter of people being around to report on what’s going on (to the police),” he said, adding that he supports a funding increase for the West End BIZ patrol program.

Hayley Caldwell, 19, is a second-year history student at the University of Winnipeg.

She has lived independently in the West End for nearly a year and loves the multicultural atmosphere. However, she also believes that safety can still be improved in the neighbourhood.

“I definitely wouldn’t walk down Ellice by myself at 12 o’clock at night,” she said. “You see the presence of prostitution and gangs.” 

On the topic of public safety, Cardwell-Hoeppner told The Uniter in September that she supports the expansion of the Downtown BIZ Outreach patrol program, an initiative that gives BIZ workers police-like powers to detain publicly intoxicated individuals into the West End.

Although Cardwell-Hoeppner said that the matter was not discussed at the Nov. 17 AGM, Henoch noted he supports an expansion of the program.

He also mentioned that business owners discussed the ongoing partnership that has been made between the West End and Downtown BIZ patrols during large community events.

Published in Volume 65, Number 13 of The Uniter (November 25, 2010)

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