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Kingston municipal politicians eyeing expansion of Princess Street Promenade event

Kingston downtown business interior.
Kingston downtown business interior. Global Kingston

The Princess Street Promenade has been part of Kingston’s downtown experience for a little over a decade.

Organized by Downtown Kingston, Princess Street is closed from Division to Ontario street allowing pedestrians and vendors to set up and walk the road minus vehicles.

The city of Kingston is considering expanding on that one-day summer event as more businesses are allowed to open with COVID-19 restrictions being loosened.

Mayor Bryan Paterson says they are looking at closing one lane of traffic during the week and both lanes of Princess street on weekends.

“It will provide more space for pedestrians being able to walk and still have that physical distancing, but also give a chance for stores in the downtown to be able to put out outdoor displays.”

READ MORE: Kingston’s Princess Street Promenade draws thousands

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Part of the charm of Kingston’s historic downtown is its numerous small independently owned stores and restaurants.

The challenge for business owners is those small stores have a limited ability for two-metre physical distancing.

Paterson says that challenge is one of the motivating factors behind the initiative, particularly once restaurants are allowed to open their doors.

“We’ll have opportunity for larger patio spaces that ensure for physical distancing.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Kingston, Ont., retail stores reopen doors to customers

Cheryl Walker owns Cloth, a clothing store on Princess Street, and she supports the idea in principle but would like the on-going promenades set up a little differently.

“I would just do it block by block and close the whole block. I would love that idea.”

Walker says the city’s downtown streets are laid out in a grid and it would be easy for motorists to drive around a single block.

The long-time business owner is concerned closing down one lane during the week will cause congestion and motorist frustration.

“We have deliveries happening all day long, and cars stop on the one lane, trucks stop, buses stop, and we’re across from shoppers so elderly people are in and out of cabs all day so there usually is only one lane.”

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Kingston’s mayor says details of the promenade are still being worked out but he hopes whatever form it takes the promenade will be up and running in the next few weeks.