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We Cannot Continue to Ignore Community Safety in Winnipeg

The recent announcement to invest in Winnipeg Transit is flawed.

There is no mention of improvements to transit safety or improving operational effectiveness. Instead, all the funds are for capital investment.

The Transit Master Plan does not include any aspects to address the urgent safety issues of the transit system. That is one of the reasons why I didn't support the plan at the City Council.

At the associated press conference, the Mayor stated that the City must rely on the Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) to find safety improvements. However, the TAC has already reported to Council that Transit safety is underfunded and that safety is the responsibility of the police, not the Transit department.

Over a year ago, on April 9, 2021, I successfully passed a motion at the Assiniboia Community Committee to study and report back on improving Transit safety. The motion subsequently passed at Standing Committee and was sent to the Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) for study.

The results of the TAC study were as follows in the Executive Summary of a report to the Standing Committee on December 1, 2021:

"The Transit Advisory Committee (TAC) reviewed the recommendation of the Assiniboine Community Committee at its June 4 and October 25, 2021 meetings.

Transit advised the TAC that it lacks dedicated resources to collect and review crime information and does not investigate crimes. Instead, the department said all incidents are reported to the Winnipeg Police Service each month so they can analyze and deploy their resources strategically."

Residents have a right to know that TAC has already advised that there is a lack of resources and responsibility for Transit to address safety effectively.

The Transit Advisory Committee has failed to find solutions to significant safety issues, with the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service reporting over 1,700 safety incidents on the Winnipeg Transit system in 2021.

There have been several high-profile incidents on the Winnipeg Transit System in 2022, including several assaults, fires at temporary bus shelter encampments, and the death of a man in a bus shelter on February 22.

I requested a special meeting to discuss transit safety on March 2, which was declined.

Since the special meeting request, three more high-profile incidents have occurred. Police reported a sexual assault of a 12-year-old at a downtown bus shelter on the afternoon of March 23. On March 8, police released details regarding the sexual assault on a 16-year-old at a bus shelter in the Inkster Gardens area and the kidnapping and sexual assault of a 12-year-old on April 11 at a bus shelter located at the Forks.

The recent announcement of capital investments has ignored residents' concerns for safety.

If the City ignores safety, people won't ride the bus.

As leaders of the City, we must focus on Community Safety and well-being. Ignoring the problems as this government has done cannot continue.


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