Concerns raised about safety in Winnipeg after three separate violent incidents at The Forks

There are growing concerns, after a surge of crime in Winnipeg’s downtown area over the last few weeks. Alex Karpa looks into what’s contributing to the latest increase.

By Alex Karpa

Concerns about safety within Winnipeg’s core areas are growing after three separate violent incidents took place at The Forks in less than a week, including a stabbing involving a Ukrainian refugee.

As the cost of food, housing and gas continue to skyrocket, Kevin Walker with the Bear Clan says people are trying to do whatever they can to stay alive.

“Lack of food, lack of money, poverty, addictions, that’s what is driving the crime problems.”

Walker says they are providing food to around 600-700 people a day, the highest number he’s seen in his time with the Bear Clan. As costs continue to go up, he expects that number to rise.

“Some of the resources aren’t available as much as they are because it is full. I think people have to start supporting each other and make sure we take care of each other out here.”

Dr. Kelly Gorkoff from the University of Winnipeg says it’s not uncommon for crime to spike in the summer months, but she says these crimes, like the recent robberies at The Forks, are occurring because people are in need.

RELATED: ‘This guy could die’: Eyewitness describes unprovoked stabbing of Ukrainian refugee at The Forks

Gorkoff attributes the rise in youth crimes to increasing poverty.

“The Canadian child poverty rate is 17 percent; in Manitoba, it’s 28 per cent; in the North End, it’s between 30-40 per cent.”

Gorkoff still feels safe in Winnipeg’s downtown but says the rise in criminal acts speaks to a larger issue.

“For me, it’s sparking this concern about a lack of a stable economy in Winnipeg and Manitoba. I think this is something we really need to address because if we don’t it will grow for sure.”

Gorkoff says the provincial government needs to address the minimum wage, which sits as the second-lowest across Canada. Back in May, the province announced it would be increasing the wage by 40 cents from $11.95 to $12.35, but Kate Kehler from the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg says this is not feasible.

“Now that there is no CERB, no benefits, we have these incredible inflation rates. Then on top of the rates, we have higher soaring interest rates, so people in poverty will have higher percentages of debt compared to other people, so they are getting hit at every single level and we are not doing enough to step in and intervene,” explained Kehler.

Walker says the Bear Clan will continue supporting those who need the help.

“Times are tough for everyone, but I think if we come together as a community, we can help each other and solve some of the issues that way.”

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