20.7 C
Niagara Falls
Thursday, June 20, 2024
Letter: COVID-19: Close Queen St. to cars, so stores can safely offer services

More Planning Needed as Town Economy Reopens

Dear editor:

In the space of a week, Niagara-on-the-Lake has gone from implementing strict measures intended to reduce the risk of local residents contracting COVID-19 to essentially welcoming tourists back to town.

We’ve gone from closed public washrooms and no parking in Old Town, with signs at main routes into town advising visitors to stay home, and illegally parked cars being ticketed or towed, to Queen Street being open for business and parking.

Why? The rationale, according to media releases issued by NOTL, is that Ontario has allowed retail businesses that can safely offer curbside pickup to reopen.

However, the fact of the matter is that even though some businesses in town will be able to meet provincial criteria to open, the higher level of risk that COVID-19 poses for many town residents due to their advancing years – which was the reason for the parking restrictions, closed washrooms and signs in the first place – has not gone away. Nor have Ontario’s guidelines advising people to stay at home.

Therein is the dilemma. As tourist-based as NOTL’s economy is, the town still needs to get it back up and running again as soon as it’s safe to do so, but without creating undue risks for residents.

However, Ontario’s planned and measured approach to reopening businesses, as well as the innovative approaches many communities and businesses are taking to support this, seem a better way to go than the flip-flop measures that have been implemented here.

For example, rather than lifting the parking restrictions on Queen Street, would it make more sense to close it to vehicle traffic altogether, which would allow businesses to mark off areas on the street for their curbside service patrons to lineup and physically distance safely while waiting to shop?

 It would certainly seem to be a better strategy than closing public facilities – which created its own health hazards as some visitors opted to relieve themselves behind bushes and trees.

Let’s hope that as NOTL begins to reopen our town leaders take the time to really think through and implement the measures we need to keep residents safe.

Terry Davis

NOTL

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