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Get out your walking shoes, Open Air Dunlop close to returning to downtown Barrie

Five blocks of a vehicle-free Dunlop Street could help businesses recover from the pandemic and it would be done safely
2020-11-05 Open Air file

Open Air is coming back to Barrie’s Dunlop Street.

City councillors gave initial approval Monday night to a motion that Dunlop Street East, between Mulcaster and Clapperton streets, be pedestrians-only for 15 Saturdays from June 5 until Sept. 4, and on Saturday, Oct. 9. There would also be four Friday half-day closures, from noon onward, again on Dunlop East between Mulcaster and Clapperton, on July 2, July 30, Sept. 3 and Oct. 8.

Open Air Dunlop 2021 would also involve closing Dunlop Street West, between Bayfield and Toronto streets, to vehicles on half of one Friday, July 2 and for four Saturdays on July 3, 10, 17 and 24.

“That would see 24 days of road closures to support Open Air Dunlop, once the public health restrictions permit, over the course of the summer and the fall,” said Mayor Jeff Lehman.

Coun. Keenan Aylwin, who represents the downtown, said five blocks of a vehicle-free Dunlop Street could help businesses recover from the pandemic and it would be done safely.

City council will consider final approval to the motion at its May 10 meeting.

The Downtown BIA’s total budget for Open Air Dunlop 2021 is $118,502, which includes road closures, entertainment, advertising, signs, personal protective equipment (PPE) and some general supplies.

City council is being asked to contribute as much as $60,000 to support the road closures during Open Air Dunlop, to be funded from the reinvestment reserve.

The city’s operations department would also provide waste removal, clean up, street sweeping and assist with over-road banners at Anne and Blake streets. All promotions would be tailored to meet health regulations and would not promote gathering.

The BIA is planning an event aligned with provincial COVID-19 restrictions and gathering limits at the time. It also recognizes that the scope and type of programming to take place during Open Air Dunlop would be determined by local public health restrictions then, and the BIA would work with the city’s special events team to ensure protocols are adhered to.

With streetscaping construction along Dunlop Street finished, Open Air Dunlop could provide an opportunity to attract the community to the downtown to enjoy the new features of the street and to visit retailers.

The downtown Barrie patio season was to begin on April 1, but due to current provincial health restrictions restaurants are limited to take-out and delivery service only.

Open Air Dunlop would be one way to attract people back to the downtown once it’s safe to do so.

This event was also held on a smaller scale last summer, for five Saturdays, at a cost of almost $47,500. The city contributed $12,500 for the road closures.

Bob Bruton

About the Author: Bob Bruton

Bob Bruton is a full-time BarrieToday reporter who covers politics and city hall.
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