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SMART | city Winnipeg’s

downtown shines on the International stage in 2015

A view of the downtown area surrounding the Museum for Human Rights. By Stefano Grande and Sachit Mehra

tourists into the City and the CFL’s 103rd Grey Cup showdown between the Edmonton Eskimos and Ottawa Redblacks, the perception of Winnipeg and its downtown was elevated, making it the place to be this year. Our belief in our city was confirmed by National Geographic, who ranked Winnipeg as one of the best places to visit in the world. Tis does not happen by chance - it is a result of all of the buzz and hype that’s created with major events like FIFA and Grey Cup, and with the abundance of tour- ists and locals taking in the experience. We are North America’s best kept secret. Hotels were booked solid, restaurants were ready and


eager to serve food and drink, and Winnipeggers were proud and pumped to take part in the atmosphere. Te energy and pride was felt on sidewalks, and could be seen if peered in the windows of downtown establishments. Trough our partnership with the City of Winnipeg, down- town was spotless, clean, and inviting, as the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ’s hundreds of staff and volunteers hit the streets with the goal of providing a safe, clean and welcom- ing environment. Getting to and from the downtown, too,

t’s been an incredible year for our City. With FIFA Women’s World Cup drawing in thou- sands of Americans, Australians, and international

was made easier with support from Winnipeg Transit and initiatives like a free downtown circulator. Te business community put out its welcome mat to the rest of the world. When FIFA rolled into the City, Winnipeggers were

treated to seven world-class matches. Te elite teams, coaching staff, family and friends arrived in Winnipeg from places as far as Sweden, Nigeria, USA, Australia, Tai- land, Germany, China, Ecuador, Japan and New Zealand. Welcome to the centre of the continent! Te US soccer team was seen out-and-about signing au-

tographs and walking around our downtown, with young fans waiting on the street corners to see their favourite players. And the international media was here too, broad- casting stories of Winnipeg and FIFA across the oceans. Our city was buzzing with kids and families wanting to feel the vibe of the tournament. Te 103rd Grey Cup, too, was a week-long Canadian-

style party, bringing CFL fans from across this great coun- try. Perhaps more party-hardy than the normal sporting fan and aficionado, Grey Cup attendees are enthusiasti- cally devoted to the sport of football, with many fans who were spotted shopping for that perfect souvenir to bring home to their loved ones. With all the Saskatchewan fans from out of town wearing their Roughriders colour, one would swear their team was in the final! Tese national and international sporting events were

important for many reasons, in increasing the visibility and enhancing the image of our city. Tis all plays into

creating a positive psyche for Winnipeggers too. And the direct and indirect economic spin-offs are important. Combined, according to Economic Development Winni- peg estimates, these two events will contribute over $124 million to our local economy. Sport is big businesses, and we are hitting on all cylinders. We often hear that density is critical for the success

of our downtown. Residential density is key, office den- sity brings our downtown alive during the day, and our downtown is indeed undergoing a great re-birth. But the density of national and international events is truly magi- cal. It transforms places over a short period of time, and introduces visitors to our great city and their perceptions are made, here in our city centre. Our historical build- ings, our Exchange District, Te Forks and waterfront, and the diversity of our core truly are unique and world- class, and we should be proud. Some visitors came early, others decided to stay longer. Our restaurants, retail and nightlife deliver truly Winnipeg flavour and provide great memories. Te economic impact is instant and dramatic. Hats off to all those involved, our political leaders, our

FIFA and Grey Cup champions and volunteers. 2015 will be a year to remember, perhaps the year that serves as a reminder that we have a world class City, which has finally arrived. Sachit Mehra is the Chair of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ

Management Board and Stefano Grande is the Executive Director of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ.

the world have made Manitoba home. With the federal govern-

Te role and responsibility of business in settling refugees M

anitoba is growing through immi- gration. Over the past 10 years, al- most 130,000 people from around

ment’s decision to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada - 2,000 in Manitoba - the focus is on making it a win-win for everyone. “That’s what Canada is all

about,” says Daniel Peimbert, manager of employment ser- vices with the Immigrant Cen- tre of Manitoba. “We want them to be independent,” Pei- mbert says, adding his or- ganization helps newcomers to Canada, whether immigrants or refugees, adjust to their new surroundings. “Te biggest obstacle is sta-

suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and require various health supports, he says.

Another barrier will likely be

language. “Te federal government is

going to be providing profiling (demographics), so we can be prepared for these refugees,” he says, adding there are quite a few local agencies working together to help. “Right now, we don’t know

what experiences they (the refugees) bring and their Eng- lish levels.” Welcome Place, IRCOM (Im-

Dave Angus

President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

ble housing, so they feel secure and settled … then they can focus on employment and finding a job.” While immigrants choose to move to

another country and may do so if they have work or a place to live, refugees have been forced to flee for their lives. Coming from a war-torn country, the Syrian refugees may 6 Smart Biz

migrant and Refugee Commu- nity Organization of Manitoba) and NEEDS Inc. (Newcomers Employment and Education Development Services) will initially take the lead, and then other support agencies, such as the Immigrant Centre

and Manitoba Start, will get involved later, he says. Te Red Cross has set up a hotline 1-888-

662-3211 for Manitobans wanting to make a donation or who want to volunteer with resettlement efforts.

Judith Hayes, CEO of Manitoba Start,

which provides employment services, says Phase 1 is about making the refugees feel welcome and getting them settled – provid- ing everything from winter boots to a place to live to the documentation they need as new Canadians. Even getting their kids in school may not be easy because the chil- dren might not have seen a classroom for years, Hayes says. It could take six months or more before their parents are ready to work. “Winnipeg businesses have a proud his-

tory of contributing to our community and so we know when it comes to basic needs like food, clothing and shelter, they will be there,” says Dave Angus, president and CEO of Te Chamber. “But we also know that those who come to settle here provide an excellent source of workers that industry needs.” As part of Phase 2, Manitoba Start will be

among the organizations which will play a role in helping them to prepare for and find jobs. Peimbert says there are a lot of things the refugees need to learn before holding down a job. “Tey don’t know the Canadian work-

place culture, employment standards and safety regulations.” Workshops and training will be provided

on what to expect on-the-job, as well as how to write a resume and how to be interviewed for a job. “We’ll also be developing special pro-

grams for employers, who are interested in hiring Syrian refugees,” he says, citing they need to know what to consider when hiring or integrating a refugee into their workforce. If there’s a message he would give to local

businesses, it’s simple: “Come forward.” Te Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce

has reached out to and had conversations with several groups and agencies to get a sense of how the business community can help. Tis question was also posed to the directors at last week’s Chamber board meeting for discussion, and we have also reached out to other Chambers across Canada to find out how and if efforts can be coordinated. “Te settlement of refugees take a com-

munity effort and we know that the busi- ness community has a responsibility as well,” says Angus. We will provide you with updates on

how you can get involved. Until then, the Red Cross toll-free hotline is open to calls: 1-888-662-3211. Te phone line is staffed Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CT.

January 2016

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