A Water Street business owner is calling on St. John's city council to extend the pedestrian mall into the New Year.
Peg Norman, owner of The Travel Bug and The Bee's Knees, said the pedestrian mall been a saviour for Water Street businesses, helping them weather the devastating impact of both snowmageddon and COVID-19.
"This has been a really, really tough year," Norman said.
"We've all suffered the consequences of COVID-19, both personal and economic."
The pedestrian mall opened on July 3 and is set to close on Sept. 7, but Norman would like to see it continue until Jan. 2, 2021.
"We'd have a great outdoor Christmas market on the street and celebrate, bring in 2021. And hopefully, 2021 will be a better year for everyone," she said.
Norman has also written to Mayor Danny Breen requesting the extension, asking him to declare his position on the matter and vote to extend the pedestrian mall.
She said the pedestrian mall has helped businesses recuperate some of the losses from COVID-19 and snowmageddon closures.
"Having that many people on the street has made a huge difference in terms of the foot traffic, the exposure. There are people coming downtown that have never come downtown," she said.
Norman added the mall has become a communal space, allowing people to walk, bike, skateboard and do other activities.
"There's families and kids and people [that], after such a tough time of being cooped up for so long, are so happy to be out in community," she said.
Norman said she fears the closure of the mall will hurt businesses in the downtown, as restaurants must operate at 50 per cent capacity and stores must limit the number of customers inside at one time in order to heed physical distancing.
She said extending the mall into the Fall could work, as the first major snowfall usually doesn't happen until into the new year.
"What a fantastic thing it would be to have an outdoor market, a Water Street Christmas market to celebrate New Year's Eve on Water Street."
No sign of expansion for the moment, Breen
As of Saturday, Mayor Danny Breen said the continuation of the pedestrian mall is not on the table, and that the pilot project will end as scheduled on Sept. 7.
Earlier this summer, Breen said the city had to work quickly to get the idea off the ground. He added the city would have to do their own analysis to see how this year worked out if the pedestrian mall concept was to continue in the future.
Although the idea is not on the agenda for Monday's council meeting, Breen said that could change if a councillor was to bring a motion on the idea forward.