Canmore closing portion of main street to cars to make room for pedestrians
Pedestrians get more space for physical distancing amidst pandemic
The Town of Canmore will close two blocks on its main street to vehicles this summer to free up space so visitors on foot can maintain physical distancing.
"The whole point of that will allow people to be in the downtown area and feel safe and have the ability to distance from each other," said Canmore Mayor John Borrowman. "I think that's going to be a very positive thing."
The pedestrian-only stretch of the town's main street will run between Sixth Avenue and Eighth Avenue.
Businesses and restaurants along Eighth Street will also be allowed to expand outdoor seating in order to accommodate guests, in accordance with provincial regulations.
The town is also reopening additional public washrooms in the community — something that comes with a hefty price tag in the COVID-19 era.
"Under COVID-19 standards, there's quite a bit more involved in cleaning a public washroom," Borrowman said. "So that was a $170,000 budget decision to roll that out."
Canmore will take a series of other steps between now and Stage 2 of the province's relaunch plan, including reopening its playgrounds and cancelling its state of local emergency.
Tourism is a huge contributor to Canmore's economy, and like many mountain towns, the pandemic has had a huge economic impact.
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"We don't want to have to start shutting things down again, that's the last thing I want to do," Borrowman said. "Our business community is just desperate for cash flow. It would be a very difficult blow for the businesses reopening if they had to close again.
"But that's the long-term impacts if people are selfish and don't help look after the community."
Farther west, the mountain town of Banff is enduring similar challenges. That community is facing an unemployment rate as high as 85 per cent.
Earlier this week, Banff announced it would close its main street to cars this summer, in the 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue.
With files from Lucie Edwardson and Sarah Rieger