Moncton to temporarily make part of Main Street one-way
Only westbound traffic allowed between Lutz and Botsford streets starting later this month
Moncton plans to make a portion of its Main Street through downtown one-way starting later this month until the end of October.
Moncton city councillors unanimously voted in favour of a bylaw Monday that would limit Main Street to westbound traffic between Botsford and Lutz streets until Oct. 31. A final vote would take place in two weeks with the change implemented after that.
The move would also add a two-direction bike lane on the south side of Main Street separated from traffic by concrete barriers.
Downtown Moncton Centre-ville Inc., a group representing downtown businesses, approves of the temporary change.
"It seemed like a compromise to disrupt business in the least possible way and also not close the street, which we don't want," Anne Poirier Basque, the group's executive director, said in an interview Monday.
"We'll see how it goes."
The idea was raised earlier this year as a way to offer more space for pedestrians and business patios to meet physical distancing rules during the pandemic.
Councillors on Monday also approved allowing patios and cafes to occupy more space on sidewalks and for some businesses to occupy on-street parking spaces.
Only businesses on the north side of the street will be able to encroach over the curb and city staff say they will try to avoid removing parking spaces.
Poirier Basque said Downtown Moncton will survey businesses once the change has taken place to gauge its impact.
Staff say while the bylaw allows the one-way traffic configuration until the end of October, it will be evaluated around the Labour Day weekend to decide whether to switch back to two-way traffic sooner.
Kevin Silliker, the city's director of economic development, said staff tried to balance trying something different while not creating too much impact for businesses by extending the one-way to other blocks.
"It starts to impact more and more businesses, it starts to become more and more logistically challenging," he said.
Coun. Paulette Thériault had advocated for the changes since April.
"It was beyond my comprehension why we hadn't thought about this," Thériault said. "I really look forward to seeing the changes."
Coun. Bryan Butler urged caution in making changes without having a better understanding of what the impact may be.
"We have a pandemic going on and don't want to jump into something that we might regret later," Butler said.
Marc Landry, the city manager, said staff had consulted the province on the change given Main Street is a provincially designated roadway.
Coun. Charles Léger noted the discussion had focused on Main Street, but didn't offer a similar solution to businesses on St. George Street.
Silliker said so far, no businesses had applied to the city for patios. He said the city would work with each business if they apply.