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Winnipeg Crime Prompts Air Canada Hotel Move

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AIR CANADA ATTENDANT
An Air Canada flight attendant walks through the terminal at the Halifax airport in this file photo taken on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. | CP


Air Canada says its pilots and flight crews will no longer stay in downtown Winnipeg after a security review of the area prompted concerns over their safety.

In a bulletin sent to crews late last month, the airline informed its personnel they would no longer be staying at the city's Radisson hotel because of increased instances of violent crime.

In an email to CBC News on Saturday morning, Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the safety and well-being of passengers and crew are always a top priority of the airline.

"In this instance, we are acting out of an abundance of caution after conducting a security assessment with both local law enforcement officials in Winnipeg and our own security people," he wrote.

"As a result, we will be using a different accommodation for crew layovers in Winnipeg on an interim basis."

Fitzpatrick said the decision has no impact on Air Canada's service to the community.

The bulletin cited "instances of public intoxication, resulting in several downtown locations being susceptible to crimes of violence and opportunity" and refers to "displaced" people from rural Manitoba forced to relocate to the downtown core due to "recent environmental issues."

It is unclear whether the bulletin was referencing residents of rural areas affected by flooding in the province earlier this summer.

Winnipeg police said its officers have met with Air Canada officials and co-operated with the airline's corporate security to evaluate safety concerns in the area.

But in a statement Saturday to CBC News, a police spokesman said that assessment is not yet completed.

The police spokesman acknowledged violence has been increasing in the city's downtown, but not specifically in the area around the Radisson hotel. The force also wouldn't comment on the report of displaced people causing the public safety issue.

A manager at the Radisson told CBC News on Saturday the hotel was told about the airline's move a week ago and is "sorry to see them go."

Concerns over Winnipeg's crime rate have recently emerged as an issue in the provincial election campaign, with party leaders being called to weigh in on public safety in the downtown core.

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