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Aug. 6, 2020 | Thursday
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Some visitors like new-look Queen Street
Nancy Drope cycles on Queen Street. (Jessica Maxwell)

Not everyone is happy about Queen Street being converted to a pedestrian mall, but some residents and visitors are loving it.

NOTL resident Nancy Drope, who was out riding her bike down the closed street Saturday, said the closure reminds her of how Niagara-on-the-Lake was when she grew up.

“Considering I grew up here in the '60s, this is like going home,” Drope said.

With no cars on the street, “This is what is was like when I grew up, so I’m loving it.”

She said with the street closed to traffic and open for people to walk, it’s easier to social distance.

“(People) can create their own space, and boundaries are important, especially with what’s going on in the world.”

Nikki and Jason Green, who were visiting from Port Credit with their two daughters for the first time down since the COVID shutdown, said they stayed longer on the street because it was closed off.

“I feel comfortable walking up and down here,” Nikki said.

“I didn’t really anticipate that we’d spend much time here and maybe because it’s quieter when the street’s closed, then it’s easier to do that — it’s safer.”

Jason, however, said the street “loses a bit of the vibe because it is quieter, but it is nice to be able to come and enjoy it safely, that’s the priority.”

NOTL resident Ashley Gordon said she’s also enjoying the shutdown.

“I think it’s a wonderful idea because it’s Niagara-on-the-Lake and it’s a tourist town, so I think the more tourist things the better,” Gordon said.

Lorna Henderson, another NOTL resident, said she would be avoiding the street and that she generally tries to avoid downtown during busy times regardless of the closure.

“I avoid it when the town is full of tourists anyway. I try to usually come at off times,” she said.

She said the closure is “kind of weird” and was more concerned about people not wearing masks.

“It pisses me off that people are not wearing masks. Period. I have to work really hard not to let people know that I think it’s really inconsiderate,” Henderson said.

“Especially when you find people standing around smoking and you’re wearing a mask. It’s just really, really unpleasant.”

Darlene Shiels and Diane Pare were visiting from Toronto and have visited NOTL before.

Shiels said the street being shut down is “perfect. They should do that every weekend.”

Pare said the street is less crowded with no traffic. “It just makes it more open and you can see more,” she said.

“And people enjoy it. I think it’s perfect,” she added, noting that several areas in Toronto shut down streets on weekends.

“I think it’s less stressful, it’s more relaxing."

Stephen from Toronto, who wouldn’t provide his last name, was out biking.

He said the closure is “fantastic.”

“It’s a great idea. It gives you tons of access, especially in this COVID world where you can distance,” he said.

He added he likes not having to worry about cars. 

“You can cross the street when you want to and the only downside is a little bit of parking is lost here during the closure.”

He did say the street looked less busy than usual.

“There’s actually less people here than I thought there’d be,” he said, “But it probably just looks less because there’s more space than usual. The sidewalks are usually pretty packed on a Saturday.”

On the other end of the spectrum, some residents are unhappy with the closure.

One of those residents, Bruce Gitelman, who lives near Queen Street, has started a group to advocate for the street to be opened up again and a change to how NOTL approaches tourism.

Read more about Gitelman’s efforts on Page 3.

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