SCUGOG: The Township of Scugog is looking to help residents physically distance from one another.
At a meeting on Monday, June 22nd, Scugog councillors passed a motion, made by Regional Councillor Wilma Wotten, that, subject to concurrence with the Port Perry BIA board, Queen St., from Water St. to Perry St., and from Perry St. to John St. be closed to vehicles and open for pedestrian use on any combination of Friday, Saturday or Sunday during the month of July. Perry St. will remain open during this time, and the township will use the information from how this goes to develop an open street pedestrian pilot project to be presented to the BIA and council prior to August. The BIA will decide what day or days to close Queen St.
This option was brought up during discussion of some correspondence from the Port Perry BIA on how to allow the public more space to move during this pandemic.
“As you know, local businesses are grappling with an uncertain economy, community health concerns and the desire to manage the visitor experience in Port Perry. This uncertainty is demonstrated in the results of a recent survey of BIA members. The lack of clear directive regarding opening parts of Queen Street shows us that we have more research to do. With our limited resources and urban planning expertise we need the township’s help,” read the letter from BIA chair Birgitta MacLeod. “Unfortunately, any planning, design or stakeholder engagement on this issue ceased when the pandemic lockdown began. As the economy re-opens, we would like to re-start this discussion.”
Scugog Mayor Bobbie Drew said she’s heard of new concerns about physical distancing in Port Perry from local residents.
“I know, I have received a lot of concern in the community about safety during [COVID-19]. People are trying very hard to keep their social distancing, but to the extent where they’re actually walking out into the traffic to keep six feet away from somebody else.
Councillor Wotten explained the purpose behind her motion.
“I believe it would give us a better chance to assess the options that are out there. It would give us and the BIA a chance to see how it would impact the retail businesses and restaurants downtown, and how well the public would be inclined to use that open space,” she explained.
But Ward 2 Councillor Janna Guido and Ward 3 Councillor Angus Ross were both concerned about the apparent lack of a full plan for how to implement this temporary street closure.
“My concern goes back to the fact that we don’t have a plan, and the [BIA] board and membership may have two different thoughts,” Councillor Guido said. “This is a conversation that needs to happen with storekeepers.”
Councillor Wotten argued “if we don’t try it, we will never have the answers.”
CAO Paul Allore stated if council didn’t pass the motion at this meeting, then council wouldn’t be able to provide any extra pedestrian space for residents until at least August