ELORA – After a busy summer, road closures that saw downtown Elora streets become pedestrian-only on weekends will end in October.
Kendra Martin, Township of Centre Wellington communications coordinator, confirmed that the road closures will continue until after Thanksgiving weekend.
Elora began closing downtown streets to vehicles from Saturday morning to Sunday evening in late May.
It was an effort to encourage social distancing while providing businesses and restaurants opportunities to expand patios and outdoor merchandising.
Martin said according to restaurant and shop owners, these closures have been successful.
Elora BIA chair Jon Laurencic said they don’t have concrete numbers but he felt it was busier with pedestrians than past years.
“It was pretty wild to see how many people were wandering around the streets,” Laurencic said. “The street was packed on the weekends.”
Laurencic said that roads were closed primariy with safety in mind rather than to help businesses.
He explained that summers in Elora are normally very busy and the sidewalks wouldn’t allow for proper social distancing.
However, he said when word spread about their streets being pedestrian-only this encouraged more visitors to the area.
Colleen Lucas, manager of Mermaid in Elora, agreed that this road closure has been helpful and the streets have been busy.
She noted that people were able to take better pictures of the colourful seven doors display at the side of their shop on Church Street.
“Our wee side street with our ‘seven doors’ has had so much foot traffic for pictures and memorable moments without people having to worry about a car coming around the corner,” Lucas said.
She called the closures a great initiative and hopes they continue beyond this year.
“I think this should be a regular summer item right through Thanksgiving,” Lucas said.
Laurencic said they will definitely have a conversation with the township and BIA stakeholders about doing this again next summer.
“We believe it provided visitors with a unique perspective of how the town can be experienced,” Laurencic said. “We will have to see.”
Martin said there is no further official plans but they are working with the BIA on late night shopping events which could incorporate street closures.
“We are in constant discussion with them so that we can assist with anything that could help,” Martin said.
Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com