Public space in Downtown Peterborough

full bike rack

George Street looking north from Simcoe Street

With the Province gradually easing or lifting its Emergency Order to allow limited business and community activity, the City is consulting with Peterborough Public Health and the Downtown Business Improvement Area on how to use public space in the downtown to help people with physical distancing.

“The downtown is normally a hub of activity. Downtown streets weren’t designed to make it easy for people to stay two metres apart from each other during a pandemic,” Mayor Diane Therrien said.

“We’re looking at ways to use public space to encourage and support following public health guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic when people are going to and from work, appointments, shopping and their homes in the downtown. The timing and extent of the changes will be based in part on our community’s COVID-19 numbers.”

What the changes will look like hasn’t been decided yet as the City discusses ideas with public health officials and the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA).

Public health and well-being are the priority. The changes would be temporary as part of the pandemic response.

The first phase in the changes in how the community uses public space in the downtown is expected to be put in place within the next few weeks.

Additional phases could be started as the Province eases or lifts more of its Emergency Orders and public health guidance is updated based on the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While restaurants aren’t currently allowed to operate patio areas under the existing Emergency Orders, when those restrictions are eased or lifted the City could make more space available for outside seating areas that meet conditions set through consultation with public health officials and the DBIA.

Items being considered include:

  • Increasing the amount of pedestrian space by closing or partially closing streets
  • Potentially allowing businesses to set up storefront areas using space on the sidewalk when there’s enough space for physical distancing
  • The permitting process for patios, when they’re allowed to operate
  • Equitable access and accessibility
  • The speed limit on downtown streets
  • Parking
  • Maintaining access for commercial deliveries and construction

“The City’s response and recovery plan will look at a holistic approach on how best to assist business and members of the community,” Town Ward Councillor Dean Pappas said.

“Our focus is the health and well-being of the community during the pandemic. Changing how we use public space in the downtown will benefit the entire community by helping to reduce the spread of illness,” Town Ward Councillor Kemi Akapo said. “Our downtown, with outdoor spaces to allow properly restricted activities, will continue to be the economic and cultural heart of our community.”

For an up-to-date listing on municipal services affected by the COVID-19 emergency, please visit peterborough.ca/COVID19.
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For further information, members of the media are invited to contact the undersigned:
Brendan Wedley, Manager of Communication Services
City of Peterborough
705-742-7777 ext. 1636