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Thursday, August 18, 2022
Letter: Opening Queen St. to pedestrians is just a start

Dear editor:

I’d like to voice support for town council’s decision to close Queen Street to cars on weekends. The fact that they did this at all shows courage and a willingness to innovate.

That is not to say their execution was perfect. For a move like this to be successful, our town needs to do far more than just close off the street. We need to be radical and we need to be far more holistic. 

One issue with the council's implementation was signage: “Emergency. Road Closed” is not a good look. Instead, we have to create a welcoming entrance. We can build planters from recycled wood pallets, or just cover up the existing sign and paint on it: “Welcome to Queen Street.”

A more vital issue is that the town does not do enough to encourage leaving your two tons of metal and plastic at home. If we are not changing the way we get around, parking will always be an issue.

The town must put in proper, grade separated bike paths, and improve the sidewalks where necessary. This is not expensive, and not difficult, especially when you consider the support for projects like the diverging diamond interchange that is going onto Glendale Avenue.

Furthermore, we need to work with the region and province to reconsider how tourists get into our little town in the first place.

Store owner Peter Earle made an excellent point: “It’s not a road closure. It’s a pedestrian opening.”

This is not just about traffic, this is not just about tourists. This is a step in remembering our town exists as a space to live, not a space for storing our big metal boxes.

European cities started reversing auto-centric development as early as the 1960s. Copenhagen started pedestrianizing Strøget in 1962. Amsterdam started its revolution with the “Stop the Child Death” protests in the late '60s.

These places are wonderful to be in because they decided to be wonderful. I hope the council doesn’t let a few loud voices stop our town from catching up.

Alex Ganassini