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2014-07-13 at 17:08

Filling the streets

By Matt Vis,
St. Joseph FoundationGrand A Day Draw tickets are now on sale. $1,000 daily draws in November. Grand Prize draw is for $10,000. License #M738339Click Here

THUNDER BAY -- Closing roads to open streets seems contradictory.

But as the city’s first Open Streets initiative showed, it is quite successful.

For five hours on Sunday the entirety of Algoma Street was closed to motor vehicles and instead the usually busy north end artery was filled with human traffic.

While an exact figure was hard to calculate along the nearly six kilometre route, there were more than 1,000 people out at some point between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Coordinator Ashley Priem was pleased not only with the turnout along the way but the wide demographic of people and the means in which they were getting around.

“We just wanted to encourage as many people in the community to come out, exercise, be physically active and take advantage of access to nice smooth pavement to do whatever they’d like,” Priem said.

“We have lots of people out on the route of different ages and abilities.”

The Open Streets path extended from the beginning of Algoma at John Street all the way to Boulevard Lake, including West Lyon Boulevard.

Along Algoma there were a wide range of activities available for people to try, such as T’ai Chi, CrossFit, bike polo, ultimate frisbee and an assortment of demonstrations.

While there are obvious environmental and exercise benefits, there are also reasons to believe the project has economic merit.

Priem said she believes walking and cycling are two modes of traffic more conducive to window shopping and pop in visits than driving.

That was apparent in the Algoma-Bay business district, where people and visited the various local establishments.

Several of the establishments took their business out onto the streets and had people lined up out the door.

Speaking on behalf of the Bay and Algoma Business Association, Uriel Lubuk said it was an idea way to show off the revitalized neighbourhood.

“A lot of people are potentially down here for the first time and don’t know about the unique shops and restaurants,” Lubuk said.

“I’ve seen a whole bunch of new faces down here that I’ve never seen.”

Lubuk said the city’s first glimpse at the Open Streets concept should calm any anxiety businesses will have in the future.

“I think they’ll see the benefits in the long run,” he said. “I’m aware Open Streets works well in many other city centres.”

“From what I see so far I’m fairly happy. We knew as a pilot project we would have to be evaluating what was happening and that’s going to be the next step,” Priem said.

Priem said organizers will seek input from the public as well as businesses and community partners for feedback and ideas to improve if the initiative returns.

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loring says:
I don't get it I just don't!!!! so what is the fascination of being able to walk on the street
7/13/2014 5:38:15 PM
surfer79 says:
You know what's even more ironic? I was doing yardwork for a chunk of the AM- and I'd guess that barring bikes/skate-skiiers that at least 1/2 the pedestrians on N Algoma were on the *sidewalk* anyhow. Good thing they closed my road for that. To top it off, at 930 someone didn't get the memo and drove a car southbound on N Algoma (I guess they forgot and left from a driveway?) Good thing my kids were in the backyard safe....
7/13/2014 10:34:40 PM
grs says:
The first thing I thought when hearing of this was it was a great idea but why block the whole length of the street when the stretch from Red River Road to Oliver would work just fine. From viewing the pictures it looks like that was the main area that was used, aside from right at Boulevard Lake.

Where are the pictures for this story of all the activities taking place, businesses getting more business, and multitudes of people on the stretch of Algoma from River Street to Boulevard Lake? Someone please correct me if I'm wrong but I'd bet there wasn't anything like that.

Again, great idea, but several km of residential street was closed for no reason.
7/14/2014 10:27:58 AM
smartguy83 says:
Nah there was a great reason
7/14/2014 11:59:23 AM
jb says:
There are several photos posted on twitter and Facebook. Do a search for #openstreetstbay.
7/14/2014 1:03:50 PM
bay_girl says:
Now there's scuttle out that they want to do this "every weekend" in the summer? What happened to my right to use my property. I have to wonder how many people who don't have backlane access where they live would love this plan if it happened where *they* live. I'm not opposed to the idea, but when it doesn't just mean a detour around - and the payoff is nothing more exciting than I could have done anywhere, any time (seriously, the sidewalk is there 24/7 right outside my door) then, yes, I completely resent it.
7/14/2014 8:56:19 PM
EcoSuperior says:
People walking on sidewalks and crossing at crosswalks sparked some really interesting conversations. One woman approached us and told us that she kept catching herself walking on the sidewalk. Every time she caught herself, she began to think about public space, how it is used, and how space can be used differently in ways that are more advantageous to people. I overheard other event attendees having similar conversations.

A few cars did enter the route from 9-9:30 while police officers and volunteers got into place. Small hiccups like this are standard for a first-time event.
7/14/2014 2:31:00 PM
SomeGuy says:
"Open streets initiatives temporarily close streets to automobile traffic, so that people may use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing, and socializing."

You bring people into an area to socialize, to explore that area and it forces them to slow down you no longer Point A to Point B in your car. You have to get out walk around, try things, see things that you would normally miss. It benefits everyone, from the businesses with increased traffic, to the organizations showing off what they do, to the people trying new things.

7/14/2014 8:28:59 AM
BuddhaMum says:
Wow, no kidding you "don't get it". Did you read the article? It was so much more than "being able to walk on the street".
7/14/2014 8:46:09 AM
jb says:
If you were there, you would "get it". If you don't understand something, why not actually check it out to learn about it? I was there all day and talked to a lot of people. Everyone had smiles on their faces. The only complaint I heard was that it ended at 2pm (many thought it should have went on until 4 or 5). I spoke to one business owner from Red River Rd who was against the idea but they came down to check it out and changed their mind once they could see how many people were participating and enjoying themselves. It's not really that difficult to comprehend - get a lot of people together, add some activities, try something new, have fun.
7/14/2014 9:49:54 AM
EcoSuperior says:
Open Streets is not about the fascination of being able to walk in the street. Instead, it's about imagining streets that are for people rather than cars. It was fantastic to see smiling people of all ages and abilities on Algoma yesterday. Residents were experiencing the street in a new way and discovering new businesses.
7/14/2014 2:18:45 PM
TBAY Opinion says:
I applaud the city for this idea. I encourage them to consider a week-end summer season pedestrian mall in the Algoma/Bay district.

7/13/2014 5:53:12 PM
surfer79 says:
Call it Algomaville! Oh wait.... Maybe not.
7/13/2014 10:30:40 PM
TBDR says:
such a cool event
7/13/2014 6:02:01 PM
progress now says:
I wonder what would have constituted a failure?
7/13/2014 6:05:47 PM
fastball says:
Was nice to see lots of people down there - but I'm not sure what the point was, exactly.
Maybe next time the area shops could be open for business...otherwise it's just a nice walk.
But still - lots of people out, nice to see.
7/13/2014 6:23:00 PM
BuddhaMum says:
Most of the area shops WERE open. Not all of them but a good number opened on a day they were normally closed and the foot traffic they saw was incredible. For example, some businesses saw more revenue generated during yesterday's event than they would see on an average week.
Thumbs up to the organizers of this event. I hope it becomes a regular thing. Heck, I'd even support a portion of the road being closed year-round. Other cities have streets that are completely blocked off to traffic and it creates a great retail community to walk around in.
7/14/2014 8:51:14 AM
bay_girl says:
Ask Victoriaville how well that worked.

So where's my cut of the money? These business did good while up where I was we had zero activities but all the annoyance.
7/14/2014 9:57:36 PM
educator says:
Awesome idea; cheers to those who put this initiative together.

The bike polo looked like a blast.
7/13/2014 6:43:49 PM
James Gang says:
Seems stupid to me. If retailers want to have people window shop and those people want to walk where there are no cars, perhaps they should relocate to Intercity mall, or better yet, Victoriaville.

this is plain stupidity.
7/13/2014 9:07:44 PM
BetterThunderBay says:
Absolutely fantastic event. It totally exceeded my expectations (and they were high to begin with). It was great to see so many happy people out enjoying the route and local organizations and businesses connecting with the community. It's so encouraging to see this in Thunder Bay!
7/13/2014 9:54:12 PM
surfer79 says:
Will Ashley Priem and any other supports please post their addresses so any residents who were blocked from their homes can pick a Sunday to go park across driveways (or if they only bikes, maybe on top of their bikes?). I mean- it shouldn't be a big deal, right? We'll only be there for 5 hours.

Oh wait- would that be rude and illegal? Funny that.
7/13/2014 10:29:24 PM
smartguy83 says:
If you are not on the site then I can't see how that is their fault. Maybe call the police next time? If you were on the path then suck it up. I want to see more of these.
7/14/2014 12:07:44 PM
SomeGuy says:
Do you complain at the people who close the streets for parade's? No of course you don't. It was five hours on a Sunday morning, it wasn't the end of the world.
7/14/2014 12:50:27 PM
bay_girl says:
Last time I checked the parades don't tend to block off heavily-residential zones with limited access to parking and side street entry.
7/14/2014 8:59:35 PM
EcoSuperior says:
Algoma residents were sent road closure information before the event and were advised to park on side streets.
7/14/2014 2:58:29 PM
bay_girl says:
*So* kind of you to drop me a flyer. Now, when can we come block your street? I have a hankering to throw a drag race...That would be cool, right? I'd even make it a charity event!
7/14/2014 9:01:30 PM
festus says:
Great Idea, was just missing the element of shops. there was virtually nothing past Red River RD., expect for a couple things. could have easily moved down. I know the theory of going all the way to the Lake.
7/14/2014 5:51:30 AM
Blah blah says:
People on here just can't contain themselves, they need to post something negative on any story. I see no point in the kite festival, but don't bash it.
7/14/2014 7:17:41 AM
bay_girl says:
Yes it's terrible that the kite festival blocked off so much residential area....
7/14/2014 9:46:07 PM
Ozone says:
Great looks like fun.

Now what was the cost to the taxpayer for the city to baracade side streets AND the five or six plus hours of extra police at double time?
7/14/2014 7:26:56 AM
smartguy83 says:
WHO CARES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

7/14/2014 12:03:24 PM
EcoSuperior says:
Open Streets was fully sponsored by community partners & corporate sponsors, not tax dollars.
7/14/2014 3:00:26 PM
Enquirer says:
EcoSuperior, be a good neighbour and offer Ozone some aloe vera for that burn.
7/14/2014 5:30:22 PM
what'sup says:
looks like a nice event but what a waste of tax payers money for the wages of the police officers directing traffic
7/14/2014 9:04:48 AM
EcoSuperior says:
Open Streets was fully sponsored by community partners & corporate sponsors, not tax dollars.
7/14/2014 3:01:04 PM
Harold says:
I am wondering if the public is responsible for all the overtime that the police snagged up for this extra needless event??
7/14/2014 9:29:46 AM
David28 says:
This event unfortunately just turned out to be a reason the the Police and Paramedics to accumulate extra overtime for doing absolutely nothing on the public's dime
7/14/2014 9:33:39 AM
hey_buddy says:
loring: It's the novelty of being allowed to do 'something' you aren't allowed to do normally. At least local business got a bit of a bump and all of these people were contributing to their fitness/health & wellbeing!
7/14/2014 9:47:55 AM
glass half full says:
I said I would eat my words, Everyone seemed to have a blast. There were far more people than I expected. I still don't agree with the upper end of Algoma being closed.
Great job.
7/14/2014 10:02:24 AM
Cazam says:
Well done Thunder Bay!!!
7/14/2014 10:10:05 AM
ThePriceisWRONGcarey says:
Everyone keeps asking what is wrong with the city, it is the constant miserable and negativity of the general public.
7/14/2014 10:24:56 AM
ring of fire dude says:
I can't wait for this event to move to the May Street area next .
7/14/2014 10:25:27 AM
ThePriceisWRONGcarey says:
You are proving my point exactly ring of fire, thanks, lol
7/14/2014 1:36:20 PM
funinthesun says:
Only 1,000 out of a population of 102,000Perhaps next one they could do from the corner of May St down Victoria to Simpson and end at Intercity. I'd like to see those numbers.
7/14/2014 10:51:26 AM
Just Sayin' says:
Very much so enjoyed the freedom of walking around, my son also liked playing in the streets. Events like this create something called culture and community. Something a lot of the neysayers clearly have no idea about. Would like to see more clubs out on the streets demonstrating what they do to attract new members regardless of where they are located to further encourage physical activity.
7/14/2014 11:59:08 AM
Cardoski says:
My goodness, people love to complain. It was a good event,good job to the organizers. For those complaining, you suck.
7/14/2014 12:19:30 PM
CoraL33 says:
Good Job Thunder Bay.
All the big city's especially Calgary downtown have streets full of shops and roads just for people to walk on :) I don't think it is about a fascination of walking on the road I believe its trying to get more people to come out and get a closer look at the stores/businesses and getting people active. Smooth payment is awesome for family bike rides and kids to skate board :D
7/14/2014 12:30:23 PM
Enquirer says:
The nerve of these organizers!!!1111

For 5 hours I couldn't take my 96 inch lifted truck down Algoma, where everyone simple ogles it and even gave me a unique hand signal to say, "Hey, I wish I could be you buddy"; it's not the index finger, but I know they are saying I'm number 1.

Get out and be active?! Get to know my neighbourhood?! BE FRIENDLY?!?!?! Wow, this was a one way ticket to crazy town.

I like my Thunder Bay like I like my Salisbury steak recipe - old, never changes, and people complain when any innovation happens to it. This event only made me shudder in fear of change.

People, this isn't the ticket. To look forward, we must look to our past - our 1960s past which seems to cripple even the mere thought of something new in this city, even if it is free and has significant benefits.

I drive down Algoma three times a calendar year, but I will be darned if they take away muh freedoms to do it when I please!! 5 hours out of the 8,760 per year is too much!!!!!

7/14/2014 12:46:46 PM
bay_girl says:
Of course it doesn't bother you don't LIVE there. If I only drove down a street 3 times a year it probably wouldn't cross my radar much either. When you are faced with being unable to do anything (use a wheelchair van, yardwork, hitch up a trailer, pop in for a forgotten item on the way out somewhere, grab your pills, feed the dog or any number of normal everyday things) quickly because you can't access your residence without taking a hike - THEN you can complain.
7/14/2014 8:52:41 PM
Enquirer says:
Where did I say that I did not live there? Please point that specifically out to me.
7/15/2014 7:22:02 PM
donnybrook says:
What was the point of closing from River street to Boulevard? Nothing but residential up there. I don't get the point of this either, there are plenty of parks, trails and sidewalks for people to walk on for their "fitness/health & wellbeing". I'm not bashing this event, I just think its corny.
7/14/2014 1:59:07 PM
peas08 says:
Would be nice if they would have vendors and such lining the perimeter, more activities along the way. for a first time event it was fun. Combine the westfort stret fair idea with this one and it could be great
7/14/2014 3:28:47 PM
North18 says:
The only thing wrong with this event is that people found a reason to complain about it. Get off the computers and go outside and live a little and maybe you'll find yourself enjoying life a little bit. But someone might find a negative in that too!
7/14/2014 3:32:24 PM
Bob Roberts says:
Wow such an abundance of Shops along the route for the hundreds of people. I think the next one should be on May Street area. Maybe just close the Historical district on weekends and make it pedestrain outdoor mall for all to enjoy.
7/14/2014 4:08:28 PM
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