No Decision Yet On Open Air/Closed Streets

A group of three delegates spoke in favour of Open Air, or as many people call it, Closed Streets but the delegates were received so no decision was made tonight as of writing.

I’ve summarized the delegates’ presentation; disclaimer – this is not a verbatim report. It is merely provided for your information and possible entertainment.

To summarize Jodi McLean, owner of Terra Green on Dalhousie Street:

Without open air. she just didn’t think they would be able to maintain their operations. Last year’s footprint was very successful and it was very well received not only by residents, but visitors too.

To Summarize the second delegate, Richard Peddie, River Bookshop co-owner:

A group go business is offering $20,000. for additional programming and to work with the Tourism Department. We have a park in the downtown and it’s an extension of what exists along the water.

Councillor Pouget asked some serious questions: Are you aware of the AODA 2005? And the Act uses the same definition as the Human Rights Code. that aims to identify, remove and prevent barriers for people with disabilities? Every person has the right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities without discrimination because of disability? After providing statistics, she asked do we honestly believe it is fair for the town of Amherstburg to erect barriers and closed streets in contravention of the AODA and Human Rights Code three to four times a week for five months? Do we honestly believe that we are being fair to all people with disabilities? Do we honestly believe our taxpayers should shoulder the expense for a small group of businesses while it hurts other businesses in the same area? And how does it help the businesses on Sandwich Street, McGregor and Malden Center?

Peddie: Well, I think on the matter of accessibility, that’s not for this group to address that’s a policy of the town. So I really have no comment on that. He went on to talk about statistics of sales and how quickly the town embraced the idea and he noted two who voted for that are on the council right now.

McLean: didn’t feel like open air is not inclusive. She acknowledge they put up some barriers in order to protect the pedestrians and the families that are participating in the activities or just enjoying the streets there. She didn’t really feel like that comes down to restricting people with disabilities or anything to participate. Everything is available for everyone to come there; it’s a very inclusive environment.

To summarize Taelor Brouyette, the third delegate of the group:

She talked about what she showcases and what people do downtown.

Peddie spoke again about his bookshop and two of the people in the room were celebrities for storytime.

Councillor Crain asked Have you seen a spike in sales for your businesses because of Open Air being in place?

Brouyette said her sales have gone astronomically high with Open Air every weekend.

McLean said if we don’t get people to come here, nobody’s going to their salon to support the hairstylist and you know, nobody’s going to the law firm.

Councillor Allaire said she received a lot of emails about reducing the Open Air timeframe and asked, Would you still be willing to put forth this $20,000 if it was changed from the three days to a tour one day program?

Peddie said the 18 members would discuss that as a group.

Councillor McArthur started off by telling Taelor that Pisces is his daughter’s favourite store. He asked if the $20,000 is to help offset those $35,000 in costs? Or is it to address what many people think is a bit of a weakness in open air right now, which is a lack of street programming?

Peddie admitted the streets are sometimes empty due to programming. And they’re stepping up with $20,000 and providing 12 more days to make the experience much better.

Allaire then asked Peddie about his am800 comments that if council approves open air or not will be one of the major factors for opening up the hotel.

Peddie responded that it’s a business decision he and his wife would make and it’s a private business decision. It’s multimillion dollars and we’ll make the best decision that we think will help the town.

Pouget asked McLean to repeat what she said about hairdressers and law firm.

McLean said she thought that if we don’t bring in new people to town, like new people to live and invest then eventually there won’t be people to support any type of business.

Courtney and Peddie had an exchange about the end goal and the presentation was received.

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