Downtown pedestrian-only pilot concludes, may continue next year

Downtown Sarnia Christina Street. May 7, 2019. (Photo by Colin Gowdy, BlackburnNews)

A downtown pilot project, to give core area businesses a boost during the pandemic, wraps up this weekend but organizers will explore doing it again next year.

Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce CEO Allan Calvert said the so-called “Weekend Walkabout” that started July 17 and concludes this weekend, has been a success.

He told Sue Storr on CHOK (103.9 FM, 1070 AM) Friday morning that the pedestrian-only experiment has been received well especially by restaurants and bars along Christina Street.

“We are truly a little light on the retail aspect of business downtown, but it did assist some of them get through the summer period,” said Calvert. “If it wasn’t just getting through it from the business perspective, we all got through it from safety perspective, the health and safety perspective and that’s so important among itself.”

Calvert said they’re open to approaching Sarnia council about doing it again, bigger and better.

“We’ve been approached by some businesses downtown, and asked ‘are we going to do this again?’ If the populous says yes, let’s do it again and let’s amp it up, make it even better, then we’re open to speaking to mayor Bradley and city council to see if we can do it again.”

Despite the ravages of the pandemic, Calvert said this area’s industrial sector is doing pretty well.

“There’s work here, the NOVA project is still going full steam ahead, I think they’ve even added a shift there,” he said. “The Oversized Load Corridor is an incredible project, that project is right now second to none in this country for what it is. We had a call from Timmins, Ontario and they said what’s going on in Sarnia? You guys seem to be in economic boom, believe it or not.”

This is the final weekend that Christina Street will be closed between George Street and Davis Street from Friday at 4 p.m. until Sunday at 8 p.m.