KINGSTON -- The City of Kingston is moving forward with plans to create more space for pedestrians and businesses in the downtown core as COVID-19 restrictions are relaxed. 

A series of road and lane closures will come into effect the week of June 22, according to the city, with changes affecting Brock Street, and Market Street, while Princess Street will be reduced to one lane.

David Dossett owns Martello on Brock, which sits on Brock Street. At first, a little concerned about the city’s plan, now he says it is a great opportunity to reimagine the sidewalks.

“I think what we need to do is create a space that’s really going to be exciting,” explains Dossett. “We want a place that will be providing local goods, with kind of an exciting atmosphere.”

Mayor Bryan Paterson says the plan is to give more space for residents to physical distance while out and allow businesses more room to operate services like patios. 

“Space is really at a premium right now,” he says. “If you want physical distancing you’ve got to give people and businesses a chance to spread out, so let’s use our public spaces to do that.”

Tim Pater owns Le Chien Noir, also on Brock. He supports the move.

“Our sidewalks are fairly narrow, and it’s difficult to social distance on them,” he explains. “Really we want to create an environment where people feel safe but also that we help the merchants downtown as well.”

Market Street will be fully closed, while Brock Street will be closed from Ontario Street to Wellington Street, with the King Street intersection open for traffic along King. Princess Street will see all on-street parking removed and a single lane for vehicles from Ontario to Division Streets, while cross streets will remain open with some short-term parking added. 

Clarence Street will also see some on-street parking removed to accommodate the changes. 

However, some businesses who will not see changes to their streets feel this has put them at a disadvantage.

Paul Fortier owns The Public House on nearby King Street. He supports the closures but says he and other businesses would like to see them rotate throughout the summer.

“If we’re going to have probably 50 per cent capacity. This is a small restaurant that has 50 seats,” he says. “If I could expand into the street I could recoup those lost seats with social distancing. But I’m not being given the opportunity.”

Officials say this is a work in progress.

“We are already actively looking at some expanded patio options,” says Mayor Paterson.

“There’s still a lot of discussion to happen but the genuine sentiment is that we want to find solutions,” says Michele Langois from Downtown Kingston.

With files from Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Andrew Pinsent