Charlottetown Mall bows to pressure from walkers, reopens its doors early

The Charlottetown Mall is backtracking on its initial plans to limit the times walkers can roam its hallways.

The mall opens its doors at 5:30 a.m. to accommodate a gym in the basement.

Up until this week, walkers could walk the hallways anytime after the doors were open even though mall stores open at 9 a.m.

But this week, a new gate was installed preventing walkers from using the mall until 8:30 a.m.

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That touched off a firestorm among walkers, who flooded the mall administration office with complaints. 

Those complaints even reached the mayor's office.

'Liability'

Tina Ellsworth is an occasional mall walker. She has a close friend who does it every day. She was one of the people who called the mayor.

"Yesterday morning, when I went to work, [my friend] didn't go walking because they made some policy changes that it was a liability and nobody could go walking," Ellsworth said. 

"The doors wouldn't be open until later so they weren't allowed to walk there anymore." 

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RioCan, the managers of the Charlottetown Mall, initially said the issue was liability — with no mall staff in the very early hours.

But on Friday operators of the mall offered a compromise.

'Walkers welcome'

The mall now says walkers are welcome at 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday, and 10 a.m. on Sunday.

In a statement to CBC News, RioCan said, "We recognize that this decision wasn't considerate to those in the community who enjoy walking the mall before the stores open each day."

The mall statement went on to say, "We apologize for any inconvenience this change may have caused and look forward to welcoming back our community bright and early."

Charlottetown Mayor Philip Brown said he contacted RioCan and the mall managers were more than happy to listen to his concerns. 

Rick Gibbs/CBC

"They didn't know the reaction was going to be so quick and so, not controversial, but they didn't expect there would be concerns about it," Brown said.

Ed MacLaren is happy the issue has been resolved. He uses the mall regularly to walk, on the recommendation of his doctor. 

"I had a triple bypass in September and I have to walk so I go to the mall. I find the sidewalks too icy and I don't like the cold so the mall suits me fine," MacLaren said. 

It felt wrong to me because a lot of people have been doing it for years. — Tina Ellsworth

Mall management hopes the new walking hours will work, "but if not, as always, we are open to hearing feedback so we can better meet the needs of the community," RioCan said in the statement.

As part of its apology to the 200-plus walkers who use the mall, RioCan had free coffee and doughnuts waiting for the walkers on Friday morning. 

Ellsworth said she's pleased the mall listened to the walkers' concerns.

"We're all allowed to make mistakes," she said. 

"It felt wrong to me because a lot of people have been doing it for years. I've gone a couple of times over the years and it's a good place to go especially in the wintertime." 

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