Open Air Dunlop well-received, says BIA executive director

First of four Saturdays of a pedestrianized downtown

Barrie’s first Open Air Dunlop is one for the history books, and if the first go-around is any indication, the pilot project could be extended further.

“I think the feedback from the people on the street was overwhelmingly positive,” Kelly McKenna, Executive Director of the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA), told Barrie 360. “It was just so lovely to stroll down our beautiful new streetscape and just take in our vendors, our beautiful retail shops, or patios.”

Saturday, September 26 represented the first of four Open Air Dunlop offerings; the newly designed streetscape is closed off to motorized traffic and pedestrianized as a means of not only allowing for more elbow room in a time of physical distancing but also promoting visits to the city’s downtown core. McKenna says it appears to have worked. “The retailers definitely saw an uptick in people coming downtown and scrolling. Some of them saw an increase in sales,” she said. “And then too, we asked if they were talking to their customers, just ask them what they thought, and everyone was just very positive about the new downtown and how it looks.”

The program is in the pilot stage, with the city and the BIA testing the waters, but McKenna was asked if she’d like to see this program extended into next year and beyond. “I really hope so. I think there is a definite will from our retailers and our community.”

McKenna adds one day a week should be enough. “We have heard concerns from our retailers with access to their storefronts, so whether it’s for their customers or for deliveries. So we want to be cognizant that some people still need to have access to Dunlop street for their business,” she concluded.

Open Air Dunlop continues Saturday, October 3, and again on October 10 and 17.