Tbnewswatch Local News
2014-07-08 at 5:27PM

Open streets

Open Streets coordinator Ashley Priem.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Open Streets coordinator Ashley Priem.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

THUNDER BAY -- People in Thunder Bay will be able to walk, bike or skateboard on Algoma Sunday.

In fact the only thing they won't be able to do is drive.

For the first time ever the city is taking part in Open Streets, a worldwide initiative that will close the roadway from John Street to Boulevard Lake and up Lyon Boulevard to Arundel Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., more than five kilometres of pavement to take back and get active.

There will also be other activities along the way.

"You can come and try Zumba, Tai Chi, some bike polo. You can come and play frisbee with the ultimate frisbee group as well," coordinator Ashley Priem said.

The idea started in Bogota, Columbia more than 30 years ago. That city now sees more than 120 kilometres shut down and 3 million people participating. It's all about getting people out and active Priem said. And it's good for the local economy.

"Walkers and cyclists are more likely to discover a new business and they actually spend more money than a person passing by in a vehicle," she said.

Carmen Macchione is all for it and agrees it will be great for area business, just not hers.

"It's good for the businesses on Algoma Street. They'll get a lot of people stopping by," she said.

Since 1968 she and her husband have owned Frank's Laundromat. Sundays are usually one of the busiest days of the week. But the customers want to get there early and, with heavy loads, need to be able to access the laundromat by car. That won't be possible during the event.

"My business will basically have to be closed," she said. "I'm expecting there won't be any business but we'll see how it goes." 

Still, the Macchione's are planning on be outside of their laundromat to offer free water to people as they pass by.



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