Open Streets planning goes forward despite province’s stay-at-home regulations

The current restrictions will last at least until May 20. The first Open Streets event is slated for June 19. The last will be Sept. 11.

Coun. Laura Lucier, a member of the Open Streets committee studying the details of what will be offered this summer, said the ideas being discussed still need to be examined by town administration and approved by council.

But she said some of the things that will be offered each Saturday are beginning to take shape.

The town has taken over the operation of Open Streets from the BIA and can now invite businesses outside of the downtown core to participate. Lucier said the committee is looking for many of those businesses to set up booths along Division Street, which was under-used last year. She said activities for children and stalls featuring local artists and artisans could also make use of that previously empty space.The committee is looking to Kingsville Folk Festival organizers to provide live music at the Carnegie Library property.

“First and foremost this is being done to support local businesses and to bring in tourists and local folk to support those businesses,” Lucier said.

She said the event will be a morale boost for Kingsville residents eager to enjoy the outdoor patio experience after going through their third lockdown or stay-at-home order since last March.

“I think for people in town to have something to look forward to is important — a way to get together again and hopefully be out in the community in a safe way.”

Open Streets this year will be limited to Saturdays. Coun. Tony Gaffan said that decision was made to limit any detrimental effects on downtown offices and retailers on Fridays. He said offices won’t be affected because they are open from Monday to Friday. The start time for Open Streets has also been pushed back to 4 p.m. — a time when most retailers are beginning to close.

“We’re trying to maintain a happy medium,” he said.

Gaffan said Kingsville had a thriving downtown prior to COVID-19 and he hoped Open Streets would help usher in “that positive feel again.”

Gaffan and Lucier said they expect Open Streets will become a yearly event.

“It is a bummer because if COVID wasn’t here we would be able to make this a really cool event.” Lucier added: “I think this can become a wow event.”

Open Streets has a budget of $25,000 and Lucier said some of that will be used to hire security.

The event will also make heavy use of volunteers who will act as “goodwill ambassadors” to help visitors navigate the various attractions offered by Open Streets, Lucier said.

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Lucier said the pandemic will dictate what will be allowed this summer and the town must be able to “pivot” to changing circumstances. She said the town may need to push back the June 19 start date if the stay-at-home order carries past May 20.

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