At a special session of Carleton Place council’s committee of the whole held on June 16, Downtown BIA coordinator Kate Murray made a presentation to the virtual session requesting some changes to help support local businesses. It’s no secret that Covid-19 has dealt some severe blows to local retailers and restaurants and the BIA board, after speaking with their membership came up with some initiatives that required council approval.
The first was the introduction of flex-spaces, sturdy-walled open air patios to be located on Bridge street parking spots. They would be equipped with perimeter benching, but no tables or chairs. The units would be rented for the season and 2 were approved with exact placement locations to be announced. These are used in many North American municipalities as well as around the globe. As Murray put it, they will give residents and visitors alike an opportunity to stop and sit while enjoying some safe-distancing socializing. She added that it’s a given that the longer you can entice people to remain in a shopping district, the better it will be for local retailers. The patios will fit safely in a normal parking spot and will be equipped with suitable reflectors to improve visibility to drivers.
In addition the council’s committee agreed to the installation of new signage reminding the public of safe distancing measures, and not to skateboard or cycle on the sidewalks. In addition there will be signs installed to remind motorists to obey the posted speed limit. On that topic, the BIA suggestion that the limit be reduced from 50 km/h to 30 was turned down. Retired Public Works Director, Dave Young stated that the downtown stretch of Bridge Street was the subject of more traffic studies in town than any other area and the historic actual median speed was 40 km/h. He added that it would take a forest or signs to establish a lower limit and a substantial amount of time for drivers to become accustomed to it.
The BIA board also formally withdrew its suggestion to ban vehicle traffic on the downtown stretch of Bridge Street on Saturdays throughout the summer. They received feedback from retailers with a substantial number of clients who had become accustomed to online ordering and curbside pick-up procedures that were required due to pandemic control. Removing this option would create unnecessary problems for those stores and restaurants. Murray noted in her report on this that the Carleton Place Chamber of Commerce agreed to keep vehicles and business moving.