Calgary

Stephen Avenue to open up for sidewalk patios and shoppers this summer

Starting Friday, Stephen Avenue Walk will be closed to traffic for most of the day, turning it into pedestrian-friendly shopping and outdoor patio zone for the summer.

Pedestrian friendly zone will be closed to most traffic after 11 a.m.

Stephen Avenue in Calgary is fairly quiet these days, but on Friday, the popular walking mall will become a sidewalk-patio zone, closed to traffic for most of the day. (Jim Brown/CBC)

Stephen Avenue Walk will be closed to traffic for most of the day this summer, turning it into pedestrian-friendly outdoor patio zone.

Starting Friday, only pedestrians and cyclists will be allowed down the middle of Stephen Avenue Walk after 11 a.m., with no worries about vehicles squeezing by during peak hours.

The change will be in effect through the summer months.

One Stephen Avenue restaurateur would like to see it go a step further.

Stephen Deere, the owner of Modern Steak in Calgary, wants to see Stephen Avenue Walk take on a more European feel, by shutting it down to traffic 24 hours a day. (Erin Collins/CBC)

"The city is making a great effort and this is a baby step, but I think we can take another big leap by doing something a little bit bigger," said Stephen Deere, who will reopen Modern Steak — with a patio — on Friday.

Deere wants to see the pedestrian mall take on a more European feel, by shutting it down to traffic for a full 24 hours a day.

"You feel like you're in Barcelona or Paris, where you have these larger street cafes that are barrier free, so it allows us to socially distance tables even better," he said. "Because once you get up to a fence, you have troubles with that."

Coun. Druh Farrell says it's hard to say what will happen.

Coun. Druh Farrell says closing down Stephen Avenue Walk to traffic could be the first of many steps to help create a thriving area. (CBC)

"We have an opportunity to treat this COVID summer in a different way, and experiment and hopefully learn some things," the Ward 7 representative said, adding this could be the first step of many to come. 

The main goal, for city councillors and businesses, is to keep businesses operating through, and after, the pandemic.

With files from Terri Trembath

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