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Hope Alley project aims to bring positivity to Winnipeg’s most vulnerable

A homelessness advocate who himself overcame adversity is looking to turn an alleyway into a beacon of positivity for the city of Winnipeg’s vulnerable population.

Al Wiebe has been working with the city to officially recognize Henry Avenue as Hope Alley since last year.

“Hope is that word that is not only life-changing but life-sustaining and that’s why we have Hope Alley, and that word needs to be seen here,” Wiebe said.

Initially a gathering place to commemorate those who lost their lives on the streets, the project aims to transform Hope Alley into a dedicated safe space where people can find comfort and community.

“This is one of the things that's going to make a difference to folks in the area,” Wiebe said.

Wiebe, who also works as a peer and community engagement trainer, said the space is particularly important to those with lived experiences of homelessness. This includes his own experience; Wiebe spent more than two years living on the street.

“If I had something like this it would’ve been great,” he said.

Wiebe has been speaking with community members to identify what Hope Alley needs.

“One of the couple of things that really came up was putting up canopies over top so that keeps the heat in and with that putting in radiating lamps,” Wiebe said.

Other ideas include a mural by an Indigenous artist and a TV screen listing the names of individuals who have passed away.

“The big one for me is an archway over Main Street – a Hope Alley archway – that we see Hope Alley from both sides. And that way everybody knows where they’re at,” Wiebe said.

Other community advocates say the meeting place is convenient for all to attend.

“Where it's located is like in the centre of a peninsula of marginalization,” said Daniel Hidalgo, the director and founder of Community 204.

Hidalgo said having a space like Hope Alley will help vulnerable individuals focus on the positives and their potential.

“For the city to take that into consideration and try to bring it to fruition speaks to hearing these folks and seeing them and understanding that they are a part of the city and that their voices should be heard,” Hidalgo said.

The City of Winnipeg’s executive policy committee is expected to meet Tuesday to discuss the project’s next steps – including plans for renovating the space, securing funding and assigning a project manager.

“I think that we could still get things done there,” Wiebe said. “Maybe not everything we want, but we'll take what we can get.” Top Stories

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