Open Air Dunlop returns Saturday thanks to our fling with spring

A portion of Dunlop Street will be pedestrian-only

Downtown restaurant and shop owners are catching a break from the weather gods.

The unseasonably mild weather forecast through the weekend has prompted the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) to bring back Open Air Dunlop for one day on Saturday, Nov. 7.

A section of Dunlop Street between Mulcaster and Clapperton will be pedestrian-only.

BIA Executive Director Kelly McKenna admits this came together at the last minute while she was in an economic recovery meeting with stakeholders and Mayor Jeff Lehman. McKenna told the meeting how successful the pilot project was, which was held on four Saturdays in September.

She said the mayor asked if the BIA could do it again this weekend, and McKenna jumped at the chance.

McKenna is open to keeping the project going if the weather stays favourable in November.

“If we can support our members and encourage people to come downtown, we will do whatever it takes to make that happen.”

Councillor Keenan Aylwin, whose Ward 2 includes the downtown, said businesses have been struggling because of both the construction and COVID-19.

There is something Aylwin hopes people will take away from this pilot project besides the critical component of supporting downtown businesses.

“The thing that I love most about what we’re doing here is that it gives us the opportunity to really imagine what our city could be like if we designed and prioritized our streets for people instead of just cars and private vehicles.”

Opening a portion of Dunlop Street to pedestrians during this pandemic also allows the public to maintain proper physical distancing.