Winnipeg city centre a drug dealers' paradise
Published Sunday, August 12, 2007 10:58PM EDT
In the past few years Winnipeg has spent millions revitalizing its downtown, but drug dealers are still using the new-and-improved city centre for transactions in broad daylight.
CTV Winnipeg cameras caught crack dealers doing business this week -- not in secluded parks or alleyways, but on Portage Avenue, the busiest street in the city.
The MTS Centre sports complex, the Portage Place shopping district and new condos are all elements of the massive redevelopment of the downtown core. But residents and people who work in the area are dismayed by the drug trafficking.
"The fact that it can go on, on one of our main corners, is kinda sad," one pedestrian told CTV News.
One drug dealer told CTV News he estimates there are 25 dealers working the area, on average. Jason said his business is quite lucrative, and he was making up to $6,000 some days last year.
That means hundreds of addicts coming to this part of town and creating a crime wave in their wake.
In the latest 2006 report, Statistics Canada reported that Winnipeg had the highest rate of violent and property crimes. Auto theft is on the rise and the homicide rate is among the highest in the country.
Despite more police and more patrols, the crime spree continues and it seems officials are no closer to bringing it to heel. Mayor Sam Katz said he is "disappointed that we are not doing better in the battle to fight crime."
Police know about the drug trafficking on Portage Avenue and they patrol the area regularly, Const. Pat Chabidon said. "When we patrol this area it makes it uncomfortable for them," he said. "It moves them along."
Police also make arrests, but the suspects are often released within days.
Some local businesses have launched their own security patrols, and Chabidon says citizens can also take a more active role.
"Don't put yourself in danger, be aware of your surroundings -- but also don't be afraid to take ownership of your areas," he said, adding people can tell the drug dealers to leave in daylight hours.