Pedestrian-only weekends returning to downtown Elora and Fergus this summer

·3 min read

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Pedestrian-only areas in downtown Elora and Fergus are going ahead this summer.

Mayor Kelly Linton confirmed in a phone interview Friday the county has given all necessary approvals for weekend street closures, similar to last year in Centre Wellington.

Last summer in downtown Elora, most of Metcalfe Street and Mill Street were closed to vehicles starting Saturday morning to Sunday evening.

Linton said this was made easier with Badley Bridge closed and a traffic detour already in place but this year the newly constructed bridge will remain open to traffic.

“We need to keep that connecting link open and keep the traffic flowing,” Linton said. “This year, we’re not going through that whole detour process but we’re going to be making sure that we put in barriers going into Elora so that there’s lots of room for people to move around.”

This means traffic coming from south of the river will have to turn right down East Mill Street, which will remain open to vehicles.

“We’re going to take out the parking there and expand the sidewalks so the businesses along East Mill can also benefit from additional pedestrian traffic,” Linton said.

“We’re going to make sure there’s lots of signage to remind people that they can turn the corner and go to East Mill and frequent our restaurants and shops on East Mill but we need to keep that road open.”

Fergus will also see pedestrian-only areas on weekends. Last year, a portion St. Andrew’s Street was closed to traffic on weekends but Linton said this didn't work out very well.

Instead the town will do what they shifted to last year, which is closing Provost Lane for an expanded patio area.

“Fergus BIA has some really exciting plans to make it even better than last year so people can come to downtown Fergus and have an outdoor dining experience,” Linton said.

Kim Jefferson, Fergus BIA chair and owner of Joanie’s, explained they are investigating how to beautify Provost Lane.

She said this could be done through “greening-up” concrete barriers, improving the garden area, adding more attractive garbage cans and installing permanent colourful sun shades as opposed to the blue umbrellas they had last year.

Linton said a patio bylaw will be coming to Centre Wellington council this month that aims to allow restaurants to expand their patio into the street, using platforms similar to decks.

“We want to have that feeling where people can have a streetside patio experience all throughout the summer, not just on weekends but during the week as well,” he said.

Ultimately, Linton said he hopes they can replicate the “Old World European vibe” locals and visitors got to experience last summer and in turn help the businesses.

“I don’t know how many comments I got from residents and visitors that Elora was such a great place to be and we want that to continue,” Linton said. “We want to do whatever we can to support our downtown restaurants, cafes and other shops in 2021.”

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com