Beginning June 29, Market Avenue in Grand Forks will be closed to vehicle traffic for three months to allow for local businesses to expand their sidewalk displays and patios. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Market Avenue to close to traffic for summer to make way for pedestrians and patios

The closure is meant to allow businesses to expand their patios to promote physical distancing

Two blocks of Grand Forks’ Market Avenue will close to vehicle traffic on June 29 for three months, as the downtown businesses experiment with a pedestrian-only strip through the city’s core.

The purpose […] is to give businesses the opportunity to use the sidewalks and parking areas for expansion of their business, while maintaining the main street as a walkway,” said Sarah Dinsdale, marketing coordinator for the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (BCRCC).

The approved plan will see the street closed to traffic in two stretches: from 2nd Street through to 3rd Street, and from 3rd Street through to 4th Street. Through traffic will be allowed to cross Market on 3rd Street.

While city staff and the chamber say they looked at simply setting off some parking spaces to businesses to expand their patios, it was deemed to be safer to simply shut down the entire street to traffic, though emergency vehicles and necessary deliveries can still access the road.

“I think it’s an excellent idea,” said Coun. Christine Thompson at the June 15 regular meeting. “I think you have to do this […] – it may have some bumps and hiccups along the way, but I think that in the summer […] it’s an opportunity for local business to attract business.”

Currently retailers and restaurants are forced to maintain strict social distancing requirements, which cuts down on the number of patrons they’re allowed to welcome in. By opening up the sidewalks and parking spaces to expanded displays and patios, they’re hoping to increase their business, Dinsdale said.

Dinsdale said that the chamber would be checking in with businesses through the summer to evaluate the success of the pilot project, following visitor rates, sales, and using a public survey to gauge uptake. Market Avenue business owners from Jogas, The Wooden Spoon, The Board Room Café, Thistle Pot Gifts and The Source, among others, endorsed the idea in a letter to council.

“It’s going to be on the businesses to make it work,” said Jeff Fero, president of the BCRCC.

Coun. Chris Moslin, who was the only councillor to vote against the motion, spoke apprehensively about the idea, noting that Market Avenue has been relatively quiet recently.

“I really think it’s a bit of overkill,” he said, “in the sense that we have very few people downtown right now. I’m not sure that giving very few people a lot more room is going to bring more people.” Moslin emphasized the need for reported numbers to demonstrate the success of the closure. His thoughts were echoed by Coun. Rod Zielinski, who voted by default to approve the project.

“When this comes in front of us next year, without those stats and it’s just a good feeling, that’s not going to work for me. I’m going to want to see more,” Zielinski said.

Coun. Zak Eburne-Stoodley recused himself from the decision, while Coun. Neil Krog was absent from the meeting.


@jensenedw
Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Grand Forks nets $3.6M to upgrade Eastside reservoir

Necessary upgrades for the facility were identified nearly 10 years ago

Christina Lake fire department christens new boat

The department leveraged its members’ skills to repurpose a former recreational pontoon boat

Gun enthusiasts arrive in Kelowna for the Western Canadian Skeet Championship

The competition will be held from July 17-19, 2020 in Joe Rich

UPDATED: Interior Health to add 495 long-term seniors care beds

Nelson, Kelowna, Kamloops, Vernon and Penticton to receive new facilities

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Baby raccoon rescued from 10-foot deep drainage pipe on Vancouver Island

‘Its cries were loud, pitiful and heartbreaking,’ Saanich animal control officer says

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Windows broken, racist graffiti left on Okanagan home

Family says nothing like this has happened since they moved to Summerland in 1980s

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Commercial huckleberry harvesting restricted in Kootenays

The province of B.C. has banned commercial-scale picking from July 15 to October 15

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read