The pouring of drinks was accompanied by the warm temperatures and familiar scents of summer this weekend. Open Streets Kingsville was a celebration as business owners got a refreshing approval from the province for Stage 2 reopening. This stage does not include indoor dining, according to Ontario.ca. Restaurants can only provide patio dining along with takeout and delivery.
The Open Streets endeavour closed a portion of Main Street and Division Road and allowed businesses to enjoy extended patio and seating. Patrons could come and have themselves a meal, a drink, and the offerings of local store fronts and services.
Kingsville town councillor Laura Lucier oversaw this weekend’s Open Streets. She said the plan was approved to help support local businesses.
“The BIA decided to approach the council with the idea of open streets to support downtown businesses, particularly those closed for 120 days or more,” said Lucier, “and to give the businesses room, particularly restaurants, to open up and allow everyone, whether they officially have patios or not, for all of those restaurants to invite guests.”
Many timid faces could be seen indulging in family fun, and youthful gatherings. The more experienced of the lot partook of old-fashioned conversations around the dinner table and a leisurely stroll through the streets.
With COVID-19 still looming over the earth, the town put social distancing markers around the area to indicate areas of safety along with hand sanitizer and masked staff at each of the local businesses.
“The small businesses, the local family run businesses are the heart of Kingsville, they’re what makes our town so amazing. Both for residents who enjoy them and for tourists who come to enjoy them, it’s extremely important for Kingsville to support those businesses, to insure they stay vibrant and strong and open,” Lucier said.
Unfortunately the first day of the weekend’s street closure was cancelled due to rain. But sunny weather returned for Saturday and Sunday. Lucier talked about the desire people in Kingsville have to contribute to an event that can help the community.
“This is our community and this is our downtown, so being able to invite people to come out and say, ‘Hello’ from a distance and be able to support our local businesses. I think this is fantastic. People have been, especially in Kingsville and Leamington, have been in phase one for a long time and I think those extra couple of weeks felt even longer for us. So this is just a great way to celebrate moving into phase two,” Lucier said.
There are businesses on the Main Street of Kingsville that don’t normally have patios and this open streets concept allows them to increase local support according to Heather Brown, co-owner of the Main Grill and Ale House. She said,“I’m hoping this will carry on for years to come because it’s a great way to bring the community together.”
Lucier expressed optimism for the future of Open Streets Kingsville.
“I think people are doing a great job maintaining safety precautions and following recommended guidelines. I don’t see anything of concern right now. You can see that the streets aren’t packed and there’s not huge congregations of people anywhere, but this is the difference between being able to survive and not for many of these businesses,” she said. “We’ve very happy as a town council to be able to support this initiative and support our businesses and to be able to provide the residents with an opportunity to enjoy the best of Kingsville.”
Photos by Max de Liberato