The following was sent to Guelph City Council regarding the 2021-2023 Seasonal Patio Program.

Dear City Council,

I am writing you today on behalf of the Board of Directors of TAAG regarding the proposed 2021-2023 Seasonal Patio Program.

The creation of patio spaces in parking stalls within Downtown Guelph will offer everyone from transit and active transportation users to residents and visitors of Guelph an enjoyable dining experience. This program will also assist businesses in recovering from the economic impacts of Covid-19.

With that said, we are in full support of Recommendations 1, 3, 4, and 6 as outlined in the 2021-2023 Seasonal Patio Program Report.

The Board of Directors does have concerns with each of the proposed options listed within Recommendation #2 (closure of the intersection of Macdonell and Wyndham Streets)

The closure of the Wyndham and Macdonell intersection had significant impacts on transit users last summer.

While there were a few transit users who did contact the City with their concerns, there were many others who did not and felt it would lead nowhere due to past experiences.

With a short window to make any significant changes to keep transit moving through this area, we believe, while not perfect, the mitigation options and associated costs presented with Option 3 would keep transit moving while addressing some of the concerns raised from last year.

We are proposing the following amendments to improve on Option 3 to assist in keeping transit moving:

  1. That the closure of the Wyndham and Macdonell intersection does not occur until the conclusion of the A.M. Transit Peak period and/or after 9:15 a.m. on Fridays except for July 2nd.
  2. That the closure of the Wyndham and Macdonell intersection be extended from Thursday, July 1st (Canada Day) uninterrupted to Sunday, July 4th.
  3. That the closure is extended into the following Holiday Mondays: Victoria Day, Civic Holiday, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving Day with the teardown times the same as Sunday.
  4. That Guelph Transit partners with downtown restaurants and businesses to provide transit information, provide a hand-out map of the detours, have those detours posted throughout Guelph Central Station and throughout the downtown area.
  5. That the Guelph Transit Group Day Pass be promoted to users of the Patio Program this summer.

We believe these adjustments for 2021 can make Option 3 work better for everyone.

We are willing to compromise on Option 3 for 2021, but we believe there is a tremendous number of alternative options that have not been considered due to the short timeframe Council gave City Staff.

We recommend that Council direct City Staff create a Special Committee or Task Force to research, explore, and propose different road closure scenarios and street patio zone options for 2022 and/or 2023.

  1. That the City set up a special working group to explore, research, and propose various road closure and street patio zone options, and report back in the 4th Quarter of 2021.

With various unknowns leading into 2022 and 2023, we must be flexible and willing to experiment with these alternative options for road closures, pedestrian space, and patios zones. One of those options could be to explore a temporary Transit Mall. Please see the attached article that was published in both Guelph Today and Mercury Tribune.

To help rebuild and gain new ridership, we wish for the City to promote transit as one of the means to access the Seasonal Patio Program and if approved, the closed intersection.

An article in Scientific American suggests that initial fears of COVID-19’s spread on public transit, at least, were perhaps a tad overblown.

Despite an early panic that sent ridership plummeting and kept it low, public transportation has proved to be one of the most COVID-safe places to be outside the home. Scientists think that’s because many public transit vehicles are relatively uncrowded, well-ventilated, and usually not the site of the kind of boisterous conversations that can accelerate the spread of airborne particles — not to mention the fact that most transit agencies like ours are requiring (and sometimes even supplying) personal protective equipment to passengers.

There is capacity within the network to handle additional passengers safely and if there were routes that did become extremely popular throughout this Seasonal Patio Program, then the City has the means to add additional frequency to those routes as needed.

There is no reason to keep ridership levels low. It is time to start working on rebuilding and gaining new ridership. Helping get people downtown to experience the Seasonal Patio Program and potential road closure is a smart first step.

Our downtown core can be turned into a safer and enjoyable destination for all users.

If we want to pedestrianization more of our downtown streets, especially to enjoy patios and entertainment, then effective integration of Active Transportation and Guelph Transit needs to be a priority, not an afterthought.

Thank you.

MISS OUR WEBINAR ON INTERGRATED TRANSPORTATION (BIKES, BUSES, WALKING, AND CARS?)

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