Kitchener budgets $238K to make downtown street off-limits to cars
KITCHENER -- A short street in Kitchener may be permanently closed to cars in a bid to make downtown Kitchener more pedestrian friendly.
The city is proposing to shut down Gaukel Street, bordering the Charles Street Terminal, as a pedestrian street. It's already set aside the funds to make it happen.
A pop-up park was set up for four days back in September and was deemed a success. Now, the city is pledging $238,000 to recreate the people-focused living space for good.
Nearby resident and dog owner Meagan Collins says she would welcome the change.
"A lot of times, traffic can be kind of rough with her and people drive all over the place, especially since the Ion came in," she says.
"So it'll be really nice to have a spot where we can just walk and not worry about the cars."
If approved by council, the corridor would see amenities like basketball nets, picnic tables and a live stage for music.
Ward 9 Coun. Debbie Chapman says the location, which borders Victoria Park and City Hall, is ideal.
"Experimenting a bit and trying to bring people into the downtown core and as people come to inhabit these new buildings being put up, it will be a really nice space for families and for people to just sit and enjoy," she says.
It will also be up to nearby businesses to decide what will fit in the space.
Café Pyrus has been on Charles Street for a decade. Kitchen manager Alex Haladyn says he saw an increase of business and good spirits.
"When you're downtown, if it seems empty, it just kind of has this uncomfortable aura about it if you don't have people bringing that positive energy," he says.
Council will decide on the fate of the project during final budget talks in January.
Residents are encourage to participate in a public consultation starting next month.