After announcing last week that it will allow downtown businesses to expand outdoors, as well as waive fees for patios, the City of Kingston has announced it is moving forward on closing downtown streets in order to create more pedestrian spaces in the downtown core.
As Mayor Bryan Paterson previously noted with regard to these allowances, these changes are being put in place to allow for more pedestrian traffic to access local businesses and restaurants downtown safely during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“Right now, everyone requires more space, and that includes businesses,” Paterson said in an earlier interview. “By giving more space to the downtown businesses, we’re allowing more space for everyone to visit the downtown and these businesses in a safe manner.”
According to the City, staff will be moving forward over the next few weeks towards implementing a plan that will create more public space for pedestrians and businesses downtown. Residents and businesses should expect to see a series of road and lane closures come into effect during the week of Monday, Jun. 22, 2020, creating “opportunities for new, creative experiences aimed at rejuvenating the downtown over the next several months,” the City said in a press release on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.
“We’re living in unprecedented times where we must respond to existing challenges by being open to new ideas and innovative approaches,” Mayor Bryan Paterson said in a statement. “We are reimagining a few of our public spaces by opening up some downtown streets to pedestrians. This will also allow businesses more room to operate with physical distancing and help residents to shop local in a safe way.”
The City will be working with the Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Area (BIA) and Tourism Kingston to “explore opportunities to animate the reimagined space by partnering with Kingston’s cultural community.
When implemented, the following roads and lane closures are expected to be in effect until the fall of 2020:
- Brock Street will be fully closed from Ontario Street to Wellington Street. The King Street intersection will remain open for traffic to flow along King Street.
- Clarence Street will see some on-street parking repurposed to accommodate a lane shift.
- Market Street will be fully closed to vehicular traffic
- Princess Street will see the closure of all on-street parking spaces and a single lane for vehicular traffic from Division Street to Ontario Street. Cross streets will remain fully open. Some on-street parking areas on these cross streets will be changed to create short-term parking spaces for curbside pick-up and deliveries
The City also indicated it will work with the Downtown Kingston! Business Improvement Area (BIA) to identify weekends when sections of Princess Street could be entirely closed to vehicular traffic.
As part of this plan, the parking by-lays located in the closed areas will be made available to businesses to expand their operations outdoors. According to the City, this may include, but is not limited to, the placement of rental fixtures, patio furniture, and space for customer line-ups.
The City indicated that staff will work with individual businesses to accommodate their outdoor space needs as much as possible and “may consider closing some parking by-lays and cross-streets for businesses to expand their operations outdoors. Downtown residents and businesses with questions about these road and lane closures can contact City Staff at 613-546-000, or via email at [email protected].
The City would like to remind residents that physical distancing remains essential as the local economy reopens based one the direction of the Province of Ontario.