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Downtown Winnipeg BIZ: Memo - The latest information for BIZ Members

Dear Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Member,

Summer is here and we're beginning to get a clearer picture of what we can expect downtown over the next couple of months. This past week, we brought together a group of passionate Winnipeggers who are helping their companies and organizations figure out how best to bring employees back to work downtown safely. We had a great conversation about the concerns and challenges and shared how important the downtown workforce is to businesses. Most large organizations are bringing workers back slowly and staggered, and the numbers range widely, anywhere from 2% to 70% at this time. One of the biggest challenges as you can imagine, is for large buildings with multiple floors and only so many elevators. Physical distancing is not easy if hundreds of people are trying to get upstairs and at their desk by 8:30am!

We understand that it will be a phased approach to bringing workers back over the summer with higher numbers expected in September. We'll be sure to share information with you as we learn more.

And as we head into July (is it July already?!), I'm so pleased to share with you some exciting news that was announced today...

Downtown Safety Partnership to gear up this summer with support from Province

When we shared our strategic plan last fall, we talked about a renewed focus on making downtown more inclusive, safe and welcoming for everyone in our community. To help address this need, the Manitoba government is investing five million dollars in a community partnership focused on improving health, well-being and safety in downtown Winnipeg. The Downtown Safety Partnership (DSP) will offer expanded street outreach, including a 24/7 presence in key areas for the first time.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ has played an important role in the formation of the DSP and will continue to work closely with all partners as the DSP becomes operational this summer. Today's funding helps us build an expanded, permanent, community-centered outreach presence that provides the right resources and support at the right time.

Priorities for the DSP include:

  • Expanding the presence of downtown community outreach and safety teams, and extending outreach hours to allow a 24/7 presence in key areas for the first time;
  • Enhancing downtown outreach via new community service teams – highly trained community support workers who can address situations that don't require a police or paramedic response;
  • Establishing a 24/7 Downtown Safety Communications Centre that will facilitate real-time information sharing among downtown safety partners and support existing downtown agencies in their work.

We've heard from BIZ members that a safe and inclusive downtown remains a top priority. That includes increased supports, visible presence, and a greater focus connecting individuals with the resources they need, when they need it.

The DSP builds on our past successes and proactively addresses community needs by providing additional resources to support the organizations already doing great work downtown. We look forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks, including how our role in the DSP will allow the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ to deliver even greater value for members.

If you have questions about the Downtown Safety Partnership, feel free to reach out to us:

Winnipeggers cautious about visiting public places this summer; open to visiting downtown

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ partnered with Probe Research in June to ask Winnipeggers how they felt about visiting downtown this summer. Here are some of the key findings we think are helpful for you to know:

  • Six-in-ten Winnipeggers say they are willing to visit downtown businesses for recreational purposes.
  • COVID-19 is top-of-mind and ranked as the top concern that may keep people from visiting downtown.
  • Visiting The Forks, downtown restaurants and patios are the main draws downtown.
  • Winnipeggers are also open to exploring downtown neighbourhoods by bike and on foot.

These results show that while we anticipate a slower summer, there are still great opportunities to showcase the unique destinations and activities our downtown offers. We're going to work with members throughout the summer to promote your business, show how you're operating safely and encourage Winnipeggers to explore downtown!

New pilot program to help address the need for public washrooms downtown

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ continues to advocate for more public washrooms downtown. Stay tuned for news on where the Pop-up Toilet will be this summer and in the meantime, we want to let you know about a new pilot program we're launching that will promote businesses and provide the public access to more washroom facilities.

How it works:
If your business or organization is comfortable permitting access to your washroom facilities during regular operating hours with no obligation to make a purchase, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ will compensate you for additional cleaning and supply costs, up to a maximum dollar amount per month. Our hope is that we can come together to help provide a basic need, encourage people to stay downtown longer and promote your business as a key partner. All locations will need to have sharps boxes and baby change tables. If a partner does not have one or both, the program will provide these items.

If you're interested in participating or learning more about the program, please contact

As always, please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions:

Thank you,

Kate Fenske, CEO
Downtown Winnipeg BIZ