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Tbnewswatch Local News
Thursday May 28 2015
4:01 AM EDT
2014-07-08 at 17:27

Open streets

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

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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orig junkyarddog says:
Okay folks it's a happening, So come outside and enjoy some of our neighborhood entertainment, businesses and maybe bump into old friends. Or make new ones, it's only one day let's have some fun and quit being so grumpy. Jeez.
Doug Powell
7/10/2014 11:59:12 PM
Thor Odinson says:
Odin's Beard! A semi-major street is being closed to vehicle traffic for a few hours!? BLASPHEMY! In Thunder Bay, I should be able to park inside whatever business I want to visit! How dare you make me walk anywhere or drive an extra block around with this minor inconvenience!?
7/10/2014 1:26:00 PM
Bob Roberts says:
Right Idea, Wrong street. There are a few business that might benefit from a street closure. Someone with an enterprising Kid should set up Lemonade, Water,Pop stand, while Mom serves up homemade Perogies, and Dad serves up street meat, all for maximum Profit, not to mention a yard sale. The skateboarders and bikers and walkers & joggers will stop by in droves.
7/10/2014 11:26:39 AM
jb says:
This is a free event, open to everyone in the city, that gives you chance to try something other than sitting at your computer & leaving ridiculous comments on tbnewswatch. Get some exercise for a change, check out the yoga & crossfit demos, skate with the derby girls, try a food truck, learn how to play bike polo, let your kids play some games & get their faces painted, visit shops in the area that you’ve never been too. What is the point in being so negative about a FREE event with family activities?
Before you leave another negative comment, take a deep breath & think for a minute (maybe even read about the event instead of posting misinformation). How much of a burden will it really be on you if Algoma is closed to traffic for 5 hours on a Sunday? Can you not figure out how to park on a side street if you have to drive to the event? Can you not plan your day & transportation in advance? Look at the bigger picture, get outside & have some fun with your friends and family.
7/10/2014 10:02:25 AM
Royalflush says:
Just a really dumb idea. Like a play by Shakespeare, (Much ado About Nothing).
7/10/2014 9:10:49 AM
tbayokay says:
There is nothing in the Bay or Algoma area that is urgent. If you need to access that area and can't do it on foot on Sunday, maybe plan to go Saturday or Monday. I'd be curious to see how many people that are complaining on here need to actually use that street as a necessity on Sunday. This is a one day event and it's hardly an inconvenience. There is rarely parking on the street in this area available at the best of times. Lighten up people!
7/10/2014 8:32:44 AM
outofgas says:
Sounds good just to park on a side street. Some of those side streets do not allow parking, like River and Harrington. And some are one way, so you may get down to Algoma, but you can't get back out on that street(Argyle, Tupper, etc). Not sure if the no parking signs are on Clavet in front of the old General. Macdougall street does not cross Algoma, unless you consider going into LPH going somewhere. Just saying. Just avoid it unless you live there. City police tickets will be flying on Sunday....
7/9/2014 11:50:55 PM
Enquirer says:
I have seen presentations about this very initiative and what it has done for many cities across the world. This is a world wide initiative and Thunder Bay has a chance to be a part of it.

Here I was naively thinking that not even the TBNewswatch trolls would disagree with this!

Those who are not merely trolling with negative comments, this only goes to further bolster the view of negativity that surrounds initiatives in Thunder Bay. Here we have one that will get people active, promote getting to know one's neighbour and neighbourhood better, more than likely bring extra business to this district, and yet we complain.

I ask, how many people do you think that are cruising along Algoma at 50km/h suddenly slow down and swerve to pull over because they saw an amazing deal/interesting thing in the store window? None. With heavy foot traffic, there is a distinct possibility this will happen.

I certainly will be there enjoying the activities and getting to know my fellow citizens!
7/9/2014 10:03:51 PM
Snotzky says:
This is an awesome idea. Let's get the kids out and get them back on their bikes, or at least away from the games, laptops, or cellphones. Hope the police remind kids to ride on the roads, and not on the sidewalks. Hope it's a success.
7/9/2014 8:35:12 PM
djs says:
If I want to walk and take in the businesses, I can do so from the sidewalk. If I want to bike, I can use the bike lanes. Closing down a residential area even for five hours on a Sunday seems silly when you realize that there are trails all through the city that people could be using without interfering with the vehicular traffic. We are NOT Toronto, New York or Los Angeles...we have the room to walk, bike, skate or drive without having to inconvenience anyone.
Having a Bay/Algoma street fair like they have in Westfort, now that I could see. But, this seems silly in a town that already offers so much for the non-motorized citizens.
7/9/2014 5:10:21 PM
gusto says:
Cane-shakers in full effect again. The incredible ignorance shown by some of the people in this city is off the chart. How dare the organizers inconvenience the driving public like this. And for 5 hours on a Sunday no less. Think of the other cane shakers! How will they be able to gather at the local coffee shop to complain about events like this? The horror!!!!
7/9/2014 3:55:52 PM
fastball says:
Or for God's sake - quit yer whining, take a right or left and drive around the 100-odd meters that's blocked off! It's not as if you're detouring for's the next street over, for cryin' out loud.
Live and let live.
7/9/2014 3:44:53 PM
conker2012 says:
If these are some of the concerns about this event you people would be screwed if you ever had to move to a larger center.

Whine, cry I cannot park at the front door of the place I am going too.... Oh my life will end if I have to walk 1 block in that horrible sunshine and fresh air..... oh wait almost every house on Algoma has back lane access. Some lanes are even PAVED!!

7/9/2014 1:56:50 PM
S Duncan says:
Was it not just a very short time ago that this street was closed for cosmetic make overs ?

Were there not council members raising a stink about how those businesses were suffering due to the street being closed?

Didnt Colosimo's music store close down citing the delayed construction and reduced traffic as one of the contributing factors?

Didnt the old book/magazine store that was around for generations close around that time as well?

If so then despite what supporters of this claim as a great idea the truth and facts seem to say otherwise.

Perhaps the city can build a roof over it next year and we can call it Algomaville?

Closing streets down worked so well for that area surely they will work for this one too?
7/9/2014 1:29:46 PM
Leith Dunick says:
Just an FYI regarding the other comment you left. We were a little busy and didn't get to the comments on this story until now. They've all been posted.
7/10/2014 11:26:54 AM
TBDR says:
the complaints on this story clearly show the commenters in here either live under a rock or at least keep themselves confined to the city limits. Open Streets is an idea used around the world. The only difference is whether the street is pedestrian temporarily or permanently. Get your heads out of the sand people.
7/9/2014 1:23:14 PM
silly_goose says:
These comments are funny. Maybe we should just have it in Westfort and call it the Westfort St fair. It seems only westfort people complain on here... This is a great thing for our city. I think the bottom of red river road and to the marina would have been a better idea but Koodos for this city doing something fun! If you want to sit at home and complain about your taxes than let westfort start their only little city with NOTHING to do.
7/9/2014 1:22:22 PM
what'sup says:
I live across town so where do I park so I can go discover stores that are not open? Also, if I lived on Algoma Street and they told me if I wanted to go out of my house on Sunday that I would have to park my car somewhere else, really?? I do not understand closing off residential streets for this purpose. As for the clients that use the Laundromat, I would not be able to ride a bike with a bag full of laundry. Not the best area to close down.
7/9/2014 12:24:45 PM
smartguy83 says:
Lots of parking around downtown so it shouldn't be an issue. Hope you have fun, assuming you plan to be a part of the community.

This is a great idea, hope everyone enjoys it as much as I plan to!
7/9/2014 3:54:31 PM
jamisuplate says:
sheesh! you people in thunder bay are so resistant to change! It's one day. 5 hours! get out there and support the businesses, walk, take in some fresh air, get out of the mall and your cars, meet your neighbours and stop complaining!
7/9/2014 12:15:23 PM
myopinionmatters says:
Here's a thought folks, why not try it before you condemn it. Dust off that rusty old bike in the back of your garage and try it. Or, are you afraid you might actually enjoy it?
7/9/2014 12:10:11 PM
gvbwlt says:
Obviously no consideration was made of the many seniors and people with arthritis who have problems walking even a short distance. You also don't seem to care about the family members visiting their loved ones on Sunday who are not able to get out on their own. Many of these visitors are seniors themselves and could not walk the distance to these homes and these visits mean much to the family member. Then you want to mix walkers and cyclists. Bad enough walking on the sidewalks and having to dodge a bike rider now they can weave in around you while you walk on the "closed" roadway. It is obvious that the organizers gave no thought to family or seniors living on this street who are unable to get out on their own or may require help or have plans for Sunday.
7/9/2014 11:59:59 AM
smartguy83 says:
You're joking, right? Please tell me you are joking... *pokes eyes out*
7/9/2014 3:56:14 PM
BetterThunderBay says:
This should be a fun event! I'm glad Thunder Bay is starting to do these, I remember enjoying them in other cities.

I'll be volunteering Sunday, and I hear they could use some more hands to help out. There's a volunteer sign up sheet here: . You can volunteer half the time, then enjoy the event for the other half!

Also, there's a website that has a bit more information about the event here:

See you all out there.
7/9/2014 10:12:40 AM
YellowSnow13 says:
Not quite sure this is a good idea. Lets see. If you live in Westfort you will have to drive there just to walk around. Oh! Maybe its not for Westfort people. Well then that makes sense. Hope those businesses enjoy it. I won't be going.
7/9/2014 9:17:31 AM
jb says:
Thanks for sharing your valuable insight and positivity. You'll be greatly missed on Sunday.
7/10/2014 10:22:30 AM
Renegade120860 says:
Perhaps the owners of "Frank's Laundromat" might find some of their customers walking or biking in with a bag of laundry?

Or maybe they will drive and park on a neighboring, unclosed street and walk the short distance?
7/9/2014 9:15:13 AM
BuddhaMum says:
I am truly looking forward to this event. Though I'm sure the closed streets will upset and inconvenience some people in the city, the overall idea of the event is a wonderful idea. I will be attending with my family on our bikes and checking out the bike polo group for sure!
7/9/2014 9:13:13 AM
Countrychick says:
What about the intersections? I have to cross Algoma to get to work. Nice idea just would like some clarification on this.
7/9/2014 8:59:33 AM
BetterThunderBay says:
You will be able to cross Algoma at police directed intersections at Macdougall, McIntyre, River, Red River, and Pearl.
7/9/2014 12:51:21 PM
glass half full says:
"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

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

Don't get me wrong. I love the Idea but, why close down Algoma in the residential area? Is there not a bike lane on Court Street?

Imagine the people who live on this street that do their errands and shopping? Park on a side street? Hagi Transit customers that require transportation?

I am all for active living but we are really pushing the line too far to one side promoting it. Not everyone cares or wants an active living plan pushed on them.

I suspect the upper end of Algoma will see a handful of people using it with disruption to a great many homes.

Again great Idea but in my opinion it is too much.

I hope I am wrong.
7/9/2014 8:38:17 AM
BetterThunderBay says:
Residents were notified of the event. Just like a closure for construction (except this is many times shorter than much construction around here), parking on a side street will free up their vehicle should they need it during the closure.

Open streets events are more successful when there is a longer, continuous route, sometimes it passes homes. Some will be thrilled to be living on the route, some people won't be, but hopefully most of them enjoy it and any disruption is minimal.
7/9/2014 12:58:40 PM
glass half full says:
@ BetterThunderBay

Really? Residents were notified? I live on a side street half a block up, How and when was I notified?

I get it you are a part of this event and I admire your efforts. I will be sure to take pictures of the "crowds of people" using the upper end of Algoma and post them for you.

We have countless KM of bike trails, Boulevard lake and the Marina for outdoor living. These areas do not require disruption to residents.

Please don't be defensive, this is not a personal attack. I simply don't understand where others feel the need to preach their lifestyle on people who simply don't care. I will eat my words if I am wrong, but shutting down Algoma is a ridiculous concept.

7/9/2014 2:38:57 PM
BetterThunderBay says:
I know people on Machar, I saw their letter, so I do know that notifications went out. Exactly to which houses and at what time, you'd have to ask the organizers of the event.

Anyway, I refer you to jb's post down a ways, I think it sums things up really well. Enjoy these things, they're events for everyone, and probably will be fun, your name is "glass half full" after all!

It's no more pushing lifestyle choices on anyone than a street fair or a marathon, it's providing a new opportunity, something we could use more of in this town.

You could also look at it in the sense that the way the our infrastructure is designed forces an undesirable lifestyle on us too... sometimes it's best to look at these things and figure out how to do them better, maybe events like this will give us ideas. Some people do care.

Stay positive, make the most of this opportunity, hopefully I'll see you Sunday.
7/10/2014 12:55:23 PM
Tannoy says:
Why not do this closed street thing on a street that isn't a main artery? Why block such a busy street for this? Go off on a side road so you don't disrupt peoples day to day travels that badly.
7/9/2014 8:16:17 AM
alexa says:
This entire thing is strange. Ms. Priem says, " "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". I have tried to shop down in the Bay/Algoma street area on a Sunday, nothing was open. Madhouse, Global Experience, Finnport, Kitchen Nook, Take a Hike, Sweet Pea Restaurant, ..........all closed. Not sure what the pint of this whole thing is.
7/9/2014 8:15:22 AM
BetterThunderBay says:
Hi Alexa, some businesses that are normally closed on Sunday will be open to take advantage of the event!
7/9/2014 12:50:22 PM
Kam River says:
It is the people's turn on Algoma street to be punished Just like the people on Lesile street and Victoria Ave.
Another program geared to the .001% of people who rides bikes.
Like the bike lane programs this is costing us a great deal of money.
Yet the people who live along Algoma street are not allowed to leave there house from 9 to 2 p.m. People visit or picking up loved ones at St Joe's are out of luck
Better skip church if you go to St Andrew's, St Paul's or Trinity as you can not cross Algoma Street without having to come face to face with a cyclist.
7/9/2014 7:48:52 AM
BetterThunderBay says:
Hi Kam River, perhaps you should take a look at the event information, you'll find that these concerns have been addressed, before you even commented! No need to be negative.

Access to St. Josephs will be maintained and you will be able to cross Algoma at police directed intersections at Macdougall, McIntyre, River, Red River, and Pearl.
7/9/2014 12:48:45 PM
spazz says:
"No need to be negative."

@BetterThunderBay you are clearly new to this site and have never read a post by @Kam River before. ;)

It seems like a fun idea. Hopefuly a lot of people will get into the "street fair" mentality of things and enjoy themselves. As for all of the people complaining about access/parking I guess they have never heard of side streets? There are a lot of intersections / side streets along Algoma and the people in a panic over Frank's Laundromat might have to walk all the way from Cornwall. (gasp) Secord and Water St. will see more traffic than usual for five hours and maybe some people will have some fun. Better get up in arms!!! I'm tempted to say "typical Thunder Bay" but I'm hoping that it's really just "typical tbnewswatch".
7/9/2014 1:35:08 PM
Kam River says:
BetterThunderBay: You seam to have money to burn for this event.
Who is paying the overtime / special duty police officers or are you taking officers away from Westfort, McIntyre, Northwood to act as crossing guards for your money wasting program
If the city has some much money to waste and such disrespect for people visiting loved ones at Grandview lodge or St Joe's Or trapping people using walker I just do not know what too say.
Maybe, we need a new Mayor and council who represent all the citizen not just a vocal minority who cost us hundreds of Thousand of Dollars each year on those bike lane.
Please stop wasting our money.
7/9/2014 6:35:27 PM
Curious says:
This is great, but should have taken into consideration the businesses I don't think it is necessary to block traffic to the business area. There is enough area blocked off for participants to use.
7/9/2014 7:36:14 AM
jonthunder says:
This may be the only time a cyclist can safely ride along the section of Algoma between Bay and John Streets. Whoever designed this section threw safety out the window; and not just for cyclists. I have heard from a number of people who say they avoid this section of road like the plague.
7/9/2014 7:15:29 AM
Back-in-the-bay says:
In a town that already has every major intersection and road closed for construction, it seems a little far fetched to then close one down for this purpose. Not to mention, the notion of this activity makes sense in downtown New York, Mexico City, shanghai, even Toronto, but when you're already fraught bike lanes, urban parks and green spaces, it seems over the top to close a major street, even on a Sunday, for this purpose.
7/9/2014 7:05:14 AM
nvjgu says:
Can't they just use the side walk, or maybe the city could paint walking lanes.
7/9/2014 6:30:41 AM
coffee man says:
Then it wouldn't be open streets. It'd be open sidewalks and the sidewalks are already open.
7/9/2014 3:36:39 PM
iceman says:
Gas tax apparently paid for that pavement
7/9/2014 1:56:17 AM
Surfer79 says:
Interesting idea, however if we want to get people out and more active I don't necessarily see how teaching kids to go play/walk/ride in the middle of one of the busiest roads in the city is the best location for this.
Also I really don't think the route was well thought out residents are limited in parking and will not be able to get our vehicles out of my driveway during the event. Also I am thinking with N. Court st. Closed due to bridge repairs and this closing down the entirety of Algoma anyone needing to get to the north side of town will likely have a significant delay.
Definately no taking out Oppa from Dawson court for brunch.
7/8/2014 8:10:16 PM
fastball says:
Yeah, because taking Cumberland or Water Street would be too hard. And using Secord or Machar for a couple of blocks to get around the closures...?
Hope Oppa doesn't mind missing lunch because it's just too darned impossible to get around a single street closure.
7/9/2014 7:58:38 PM
ranma says:
The streets have been open all to crime.
7/8/2014 5:55:50 PM
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