Whyte Avenue lane closures to grant more outdoor space to businesses get mixed reviews
EDMONTON -- Whyte Avenue shops and restaurants will have more space for returning customers — outside.
The City of Edmonton is testing out a lane closures in a two-block area to help businesses follow physical distancing rules, but the move is not popular with everyone.
"We've probably got five, six metres of space now," said Cherie Klassen with the Old Strathcona Business Association. "It is just the start for us to really make people feel like they can come back and feel safe."
It has been easier for businesses to get more patio space after the city waived permit fees and began to process applications quickly.
Malt and Mortar already has a boardwalk patio, but the restaurant and bar's owner like the new room.
"Having this extra lane just gives us the ability to have people walk over there, and then they won't be near the patio that way," said Colton Hogg.
Retailers can also use sidewalk space as an outdoor extension.
"It's really giving us a chance to try something different, a different way of delivering our businesses and services," said Mark with Vivid Print.
But not everyone is happy, with traffic now backed up for blocks.
"I hate lane closures … not happy," one driver told CTV News.
Another driver with a short commute said it's "not too bad."
The lane closures may also cause issues for emergency vehicles with fire trucks and ambulances having to swing onto oncoming traffic to get through.
"It’s gonna have its challenges, and I think we recognize that," Klassen said.
But for the Old Strathcona Business Association, the pros far outweigh the cons, and Klassen hopes to get closures on both sides of the road between 99 and 109 Street.