OPINION: Open up to the idea of an open Pitt St.

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Open up to the idea of an open Pitt St.
The Pitt St. and First St. intersection facing north (Nick Seebruch/ Seaway News).

The pandemic has thrown unprecedented adversity for local businesses. We’ve seen new innovative ideas from both provincial and local governments and entrepreneurs themselves to help get businesses back on their feet.

The City of Cornwall has undertaken one of those ideas by opening part of Pitt St. in the downtown to pedestrians.

This opportunity is giving businesses like restaurants that chance to expand their seating and retail shops more space to display their wares in a visible way.

I was downtown this weekend to show my support for local businesses and see this experiment in action.

As someone who doesn’t remember the Pitt St. Promenade, it was a unique experience to see the heart of the city open to pedestrians and free of vehicle traffic and the noise that comes with it.

It was fun to see residents walking down the middle of the street, enjoying the beautiful weather and ambiance of the core of our city.

It was nice to sit on a downtown patio without being interrupted by noisy cars or motorcycles revving their engines as they go by.

For the next nine weeks, Pitt St. between Second St. and 58 First St. will be closed to traffic, and the Cornwall community, businesses, and local government should take advantage of this opportunity to make it a success.

I would encourage the City of Cornwall to maybe move one of the pop-up shop c-cans to the closed part of Pitt St. Put one right in the middle of the road. If not to host a pop-up business, then perhaps Cornwall Tourism can setup an information booth there, or they can use it to rent out equipment like bikes.

Additionally, with COVID-19 infection rates in the region trending far down, and vaccination rates trending up it presents the opportunity to host small events or festivals in the closed part of the downtown. The science shows that the COVID-19 virus is far less contagious in open air settings, and it is even safer now with most people having at least one dose of the vaccine.

Finally, there will once again be very few events this summer. People are craving something to look forward to and something to do and the City of Cornwall has created a space to hold such things. Local service clubs, non-profits, and the general public too have been given a canvas in the downtown and it is down to everyone to pick up a paint brush and try and fill that space.

Some of these ideas will have to wait until we enter Step Three of the provincial re-opening plan, but that is just a few weeks away, and most of us will likely have a “two dose” summer, so sooner rather than later I think we will see outdoor public gatherings become viable again. Perhaps Seaway Valley Wrestling (SVW) could do a show in the middle of Pitt St. SVW hasn’t held a show since the pandemic began and it would be great to see them back and bring a unique spectacle to the downtown at the same time.

City Council voted to close Pitt St. on the weekends to help local businesses. They have led the horses to water, but now it is up to all of us to take a drink and make this experiment a success. Speaking of water, as a dog owner, having some water dishes out in the downtown would be a nice touch for all dog walkers during the summer.

As I said, the closure of Pitt St. is meant to help local businesses and it can do this in three ways, by giving restaurants more seating space, retail outlets more on street space to market their wares, and as a simple novelty to attract people to come downtown to see what it is like. Let’s give them something to see.

What do you think readers? Have you gone to see Pitt St. when it is opened to pedestrians? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nseebruch@seawaynews.media

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