So the Free Press published a really complimentary story on downtown the other day, that I was very happy to see. It talked about surveys that had been done showing people think downtown is getting cleaner and safer. It focused mostly on the intercept survey the BIZ did on Portage Avenue asking people if they felt safe on the street and whether they thought Portage looked clean that day.
The results were pretty nice to see:
Do you feel safe on Portage Avenue today?
Do you feel the Portage Avenue sidewalk is clean today?
Do you feel comfortable on Portage Avenue today?
But I can’t believe the venom with which people have bitten back on this story. I really should stop reading comments on news sites, because it’s just depressing, but why are people so angry? Yes of course the BIZ interviewed people ON Portage Avenue–it was an intercept survey, that’s what an intercept survey is. The Omnibus survey was done city-wide and the results weren’t that different, therefore, I don’t see why the results from the Portage Avenue survey are so hard to believe.
On the question of it not being conducted at night–well, we know it’s not as safe at night. No one is disputing that. Wouldn’t you say the same about any neighbourhood you’re in? I’m sure River Heights isn’t as safe at 3am as it is at 3pm either. And that’s why there are programs addressing that very fact. If you feel unsafe walking to your car, call for a SafeWalk. The Downtown Watch will come and escort you to the parkade and they’ll even wait at the bus stop with you if want. Just call 958-SAFE (it’s easy to remember).
Until the ultimate problem of poverty and crime is solved (which I’m sure will be any day now), there are things being done to address the concerns people have. If you choose not to notice or use them, then that’s your choice.
And I can’t believe people don’t think downtown is clean. Go and walk outside and tell me, truthfully, how much litter or graffiti you actually see. Of course you’re going to see litter sometimes (you or someone you know probably helped put it there if you’re honest with yourself–those coffee cups just lying on the sidewalk didn’t get on their own two legs), but the point is that it IS being cleaned up and not left to lie in the street. Downtown may have problems, but cleanliness just isn’t one of them.
OK, breathe Peggy… I think I need a coffee…