Flowers are popping up around downtown Windsor parkettes and patios as a means to brighten up the core of the city.
It is an initiative developed by the Downtown Windsor Business Improvement Association (DWBIA), the City of Windsor's horticulture department and some downtown businesses.
As businesses plan to reopen in the next month, many are hoping the flower arrangements will improve the esthetic of the downtown and draw in more traffic and more customers.
"It's a right way to start to make downtown better, especially in this time of COVID and the pandemic," said Sam Kim, the general manager of Cafe March 21 on Pelissier Street.
"Since a lot of restaurants and coffee shops can't have anyone sitting down inside, definitely a parkette would help a lot of businesses and especially for us, too."
Cafe March 21 is due to have a parkette installed in the near future.
Each participating business covers half of the cost for the flowers and the DWBIA covers the other half. The City of Windsor has agreed to install the flowers, free of charge.
Debbie Croucher, executive director of the DWBIA, says 12 businesses have participated in the project so far.
"I think the city in 2020 really pulled out the stops for us in the downtown in particular with reopening and helping support small businesses and the city centre with street closures and extensions onto the sidewalk," she said.
Croucher says the city is allowing the extensions again for 2021.
"Being able to close those streets, get more activity and create vibrant public spaces is essential."
More could be done
While a large number of participating businesses are satisfied with the initiative and its outcome, some feel more could be done to increase business once the current provincial shutdown is over. The stay-at-home order is in effect until at least June 2.
"Once we open back up, it would be great to see the downtown business improvement association come up with a marketing plan to try and drive some more traffic to the streets of downtown Windsor," said Andrew Corbett, co-owner of the Bull and Barrel on Ouellette Avenue.
"The more foot traffic, the more bodies that we can get in the downtown core, the better it is for everybody."
Brian Yeomans, chair of the DWBIA, says the association has advocated for small businesses and garnered support throughout the pandemic.
Last year, the DWBIA launched a petition calling on the provincial government to make the lockdown restrictions fairer for small businesses.
"Nobody wants a lockdown. None of us. None of the businesses want a lockdown," said Yeomans.
"We'll have to be confident that the step to keep it until June 2 is the right one and then it's the last one."
Other downtown businesses says the initiative to plant flowers is a good step.
"It's nice to come in everyday and see some colours on the patio," said Jason Barsotta, the brewer for Craft Heads Brewing Company on University Avenue West.
"Keep getting some more green downtown. It's nice to see," he said.
Barsotta is also hoping the provincial shutdown will end on June 2.
"Hopefully Premier Ford can give us the all-clear and we can open some stuff back up and get the patio rolling, that's for sure," he said.