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Mayor wants ring of 24/7 shelters around Downtown Winnipeg

Winnipeg's mayor is proposing a plan to create a ring of 24/7 shelters around downtown Winnipeg which he says will help get those experiencing homelessness out of bus shelters and into safe spaces.

Mayor Scott Gillingham along with Coun. John Orlikow have put forward a motion to city council which would allocate $1 million to invest in shelters for the city's homeless community.

He said while many shelters offer refuge overnight, only two operate 24/7 – Velma's House operating in the North End to support at-risk Indigenous women, and the West End 24/7 shelter which is largely targeted for youth.

"We believe there has been some geographic gaps," he said. "Ultimately with these investments, it is like a ring of 24/7 safe spaces that are kind of just on the outside of downtown that provides homeless individuals shelter and a place to go."

The proposed plan would expand services at Velma's House and West End 24/7, and add support for two news sites in Winnipeg, which the city said will be confirmed in 2024.

"Unfortunately, the need is so great that these sites are now necessary," Gillingham said.

He pointed to instances of people sleeping in transit shelters.

"It is hard, it is difficult to ask someone to come out of a transit shelter if there is no place for them to go," he said. "We want to make sure that transit shelters are fully available for transit users again. That is one of the goals we have here. But ultimately we want to make sure people have the resources and the protection that they need."

Gillingham's plan would also see the creation of an extreme weather response plan, which would go into effect when temperatures drop to -25C or colder. This plan would pre-designate a city-owned building as the primary temporary shelter site.

The city's CAO is expected to report back to the community services committee by the end of September. Top Stories

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