Cornwall councillor has idea to close downtown Pitt to vehicles for the summer

In this May 2018, file photo, Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. looking south from Second Street. A Cornwall councillor is looking at options to close part or all of this section of street from First to Third Street to vehicle traffic to help businesses suffering from the coronavirus outbreak. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – A Cornwall councillor is interested in possibly shutting down a section of Pitt Street in the downtown to vehicular traffic for the summer to help local downtown businesses.

Coun. Eric Bergeron asked for a report from administration Monday night on the idea and a number of alternatives on closing the section of Pitt from First to Third Street or a portion of that section until Labour Day.

“I really want to get a good idea of what we can do…without it being mandated,” Bergeron told fellow councillors. “I know there will be some feedback from the DBIA and local residents. How can we help businesses,” he said. “This is requesting a report. This is not shutting down Pitt Street.”

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth says this is not about opening Pandora’s box but about getting feedback from downtown businesses and associations.

Coun. Claude McIntosh was not in favour of getting a report because the business associations haven’t come to council. “If the BIA wanted it, the chamber wanted it, they would be here asking for it.”

“I believe this is premature,” Coun. Glen Grant added. “I don’t think we need a report.” Grant would rather just have city staff talk to the managers of the Downtown BIA and the Cornwall and Area Chamber of Commerce.

A number of councillors also were leaning toward just talking to the downtown businesses and associations instead of generating a report.

“I would never vote to close Pitt Street unless we had thoroughly canvassed the DBIA, Le Village, the chamber of commerce and the community. I appreciate we are trying to pivot and respond to a new situation,” Mayor Bernadette Clement remarked.

But she is “generally supportive” of getting a report from staff, even if it’s not comprehensive, given the tight timeline.

Council agreed to get a report, which may be ready for the next council meeting in two weeks.

It was among five new business motions to be tabled by Coun. Bergeron Monday night.

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