Pedestrian-only streets pitched for Saint John's uptown

Saint John Mayor Mel Norton wants to turn some of the city's uptown streets over to pedestrians in a bid to lure more people to the area.

Mayor Mel Norton will ask council to consider a pilot in a bid to lure more people to city's core

Saint John's mayor will ask council to consider a pilot project to turn some of the city's uptown streets into pedestrian-only areas.

Mel Norton wants to create a no-traffic zone before next spring in the hope of drawing more people to the city's core.

"Traffic restrictions" could encourage "cultural events" that would "lure people into the city centre," Norton states in a letter to council.

Anne McShane, owner of the Feel Good Store on Germain Street, says she wouldn't mind if the street was closed to traffic.

But there could be delivery problems for other businesses in the area, she said.

"You have to be sensitive to the businesses on the street."

Peter Asimakos, the general manager of Uptown Saint John, points to the success of closing Market Slip by the boardwalk to traffic as a reason the idea could work in other areas.

He cites South Market Street, next to the City Market, as an example.

"You always have to pay attention to traffic circulation and whether people are going to get so frustrated they're not going to want to come to the uptown, but I think it can work," said Asimakos.

The mayor suggests that Uptown Saint John should be asked to recommend a street for the pilot project.  If it proves successful, Norton would like to see some more permanent pedestrian-only streets in the uptown.

Moncton council is also looking at turning a downtown street into a pedestrian- and cycling-friendly corridor.

Downing Street, a small dead end street between the Moncton Public Library and the Delta Beausejour Hotel, could be turned into a "pedestrian promenade," connecting City Hall and the Petitcodiac River.