'We need to do something': Councillor calls on colleagues to help fund Main Street Project's van patrol

A Winnipeg city councillor is calling on his colleagues and the mayor to give some immediate funding to Main Street Project's Van Patrol Outreach Program.

The local non-profit's van response team – which responds to community members using a harm reduction approach – had to end its daytime calls after losing some of its funding and is now only operating between midnight and 7 a.m.

This leaves the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service and the Winnipeg Police Service to respond to any daytime calls.

On its website, Main Street Project said the program serves almost 100 people, and hands out more than 150 food and drinks and more than 80 harm reduction supplies each day.

Coun. Kevin Klein said the Main Street Project asked Winnipeg City Council for $400,000 so it can continue to operate its 24-hour service. During the council meeting on March 25, council directed the public service to report back on potential city funding in 60 days.

Klein said he didn't want to wait and provided a $1,000 grant from his ward to Main Street Project.

"I challenged all my colleagues to match that," he said.

"We need to do something. We have to take action. It is not enough to say, 'Well, we are going to get a report from the public service and we will see what we can do.' Funds are available. We could reallocate funds and make this happen today."

Klein said having the van patrol will save the city money in the long run.

"Having Main Street do this not only provides dignity to individuals and residents of Winnipeg, but it is an economical solution and it is a more practical solution than having Winnipeg Fire Paramedics or Winnipeg Police Service members respond," he said.

The Van Patrol Outreach Program is still running overnight. Main Street Project said the van outreach can be contacted by calling (204) 232-5217.

-with files from CTV's Michael D'Alimonte