Downtown Kingston is being transformed into a bigger shopping hub this summer.
Called “Love Kingston Marketplace,” the project involves closing some busy streets to create more room for patios, street sales and shoppers, all to help the city recover from the COVID-19 shutdown.
Mayor Bryan Paterson was front and centre at an outdoor media conference late Wednesday morning and spoke to the initiative.
“Where we can re-imagine public spaces in such a way, we can create a welcoming and vibrant and safe environment for residents, for visitors, for business owners and for employees, as well,” Paterson said.
It’s an attempt to transform the challenges of the pandemic into an opportunity, Paterson says.
There are already signs of the reimagining, as road barricades dot many downtown streetcorners, waiting to be moved into place. A series of road and lane closures, including reducing Princess Street to one lane, will create an expanded space for pedestrians and businesses.
“This has been successful in other cities already around the world,” said Tim Pater, chair of the DBIA Board of Management.
“I think it’s a progressive move on the part of our city and our partners and it’s a way to welcome people safely to our downtown core.”
Paterson added that work and activity can be expected in getting those lane closures done right, making sure pedestrians feel comfortable and that cars understand where the traffic can still go. Many side streets already have signage showing where pick-ups and deliveries can take place. Aba Mortley is the chair of Tourism Kingston Board of Directors.
“Once the city starts to put things in place and people can maybe conceptualize a little bit better what this is going to look like, maybe we’ll get a little buy-in from people who may be on the fence or who may not know if they are for it or against,” said Aba Morley, chair of the Tourism Kingston Board of Directors.
The local health unit has been offering guidance to ensure COVID-19 protocols are in place.
Love Kingston Marketplace is planned to be a downtown fixture until mid to late October.