Closing downtown core to traffic could ‘complement’ business recovery initiatives

“Staff are confident pedestrianizing Dunlop Street will provide an opportunity for people to visit the downtown, explore the new streetscape, reacquaint themselves with the businesses and maintain physical distancing in the summer of 2020.”


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Turning the downtown core, along Dunlop from Mulcaster to Clapperton, into a pedestrian and cyclist haven has been a point of discussion for many a year around these parts, and now that vision is set to become a reality, at least for this year.
General committee accepted a staff recommendation this week that Dunlop be closed to motorized vehicles, starting June 15 and running through to Oct. 15, to “allow for pedestrian and cyclists-only experience in this section of downtown.”
Streetscape work continues along Dunlop, but the stretch of road between Owen and Mulcaster is expected to be open by mid-June, while Owen to Clapperton is expected to be open mid-July.
“The timing of the pedestrianization initiative will be aligned to the completion of construction in each section,” reads the report written by Andrea Miller, general manager of infrastructure and growth management.
“Cities around the globe are experimenting with providing additional space for pedestrians and cyclists alike. In many cases, this happens by altering the road space that is normally available for cars to be exchanged for the use by pedestrians and cyclists.”
Dunlop Street between Mulcaster and Toronto streets has been undergoing a streetscape renewal to incorporate “a flexible sidewalk and enhanced pedestrian amenities including landscaped planters, benches, shade trees and wider sidewalks,” reads the report.
“Businesses in the downtown previously suggested that a pedestrian-only approach might complement business recovery initiatives post-construction. There is also merit in providing additional physical distancing in this area of downtown now that the economy is gradually re-opening post COVID-19.”
The downtown BIA is currently completing a survey of businesses to confirm support for the initiative. The recommended motion says the strategy is conditional on downtown support.
The roadwork through to Toronto Street is expected to continue until November. Detour routes will already be in place when Mulcaster to Clapperton gets closed to traffic.
“Staff are confident pedestrianizing Dunlop Street will provide an opportunity for people to visit the downtown, explore the new streetscape, reacquaint themselves with the businesses and maintain physical distancing in the summer of 2020,” writes Miller.
Staff are also confident “that the existing and planned detour routes will provide the travelling public and emergency service vehicles with safe and effective means of travel around this part of the downtown throughout the closure period.”

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