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City announces major changes to Love Kingston Marketplace initiative following public criticism

City of Kingston rolls back plan aimed to help business after criticism
WATCH: City reverses downtown lane closures aimed at drawing consumers following business owners complaints.

It was roughly a week ago the city kicked off its ‘Love Kingston Marketplace’ plan, aimed at attracting people to the downtown and helping businesses.

Last Thursday, Princess Street between Division and Ontario streets was transformed, with the south lane closed to traffic for pedestrian use.

Large portions of on-street parking were also closed off using concrete barricades for businesses to expand, allowing them more space for physical distancing and customers.

The same happened with two blocks on Brock street a day later.

Read more: Longtime Downtown Kingston BIA managing director could be moving on

Susan Cooke, the owner of Cook’s Fine Foods, thinks the municipal government’s intent was good, but says the initiative isn’t working.

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“It was like someone just turned off a switch,” Cooke said. “(We) had a terrible business day Saturday compared to what we had been having the past several weeks.”

Celebrating Canada Day in a different way in Kingston thanks to covid 19
Celebrating Canada Day in a different way in Kingston thanks to covid 19

Cooke isn’t alone with that negative experience.

District councillor Rob Hutchison says he’s been getting complaints about the loss of parking and traffic flow from business owners and residents.

“There’s loading problems. A lot of people don’t realize there’s about 14 businesses that have no rear-door loading,” Hutchison said.

City staff and the mayor said they would respond to issues as they came up and today mayor Bryan Paterson told Global Kingston the current plan will change.

“I’ve heard loud and clear. I’ve also had a look and I don’t think it’s working, so we’re going to make some significant changes to it,” Paterson said.

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The big change, the mayor says, is that the lane closures will end.

“As of Friday we’re going to take down the fencing and the jersey barriers on the street to kind of reopen the street, because we know we’ve heard from businesses that’s a problem,” Paterson explained.

Read more: 4 salons ordered to close in Kingston region over coronavirus issues

Paterson says there will also be adjustments to the on-street parking that had been blocked off for businesses to expand.

“We’re going to be focusing on closing just the parking spaces in front of the businesses that need the extra space that was one of the key visions behind this,” the mayor said.

Paterson says at least 70 businesses had requested the extra space before the initiative got under way.

The block of Market Street on the south side of city hall and Kingston’s historic market square will also remain closed to motorised traffic.