CANMORE – The Town of Canmore will close two blocks of Main Street to vehicle traffic this summer in order to provide space for businesses and pedestrians to meet physical distancing requirements.
With the province still in a state of public health emergency, officials have mandated that people must physically distance themselves from one another by two-metres to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The municipality's emergency coordination centre made the decision Wednesday (May 27) to close Main Street from the intersection of Sixth Avenue to Eighth Avenue to facilitate that.
"We will be putting in place a pedestrian-only Main Street and there has been talk about that for some time," said Mayor John Borrowman.
"We really want to make downtown feel safe and welcoming, so people are comfortable going downtown and walking around.
"But there will be a fine balance. We do not want to turn it into a country fair sort of feel ... it is literally about making room for people to walk and keep their distance."
Businesses along the street will be able to use the sidewalk to accommodate mitigations that may be needed to safely reopen with new health and safety protocols.
There will also be the opportunity for restaurants and cafés to expand outdoor patio seating areas.
The mayor said there is not yet a clear timeline for the closure to be put in place, as a number of factors need to be addressed. That includes at the intersection at Sixth Avenue and Main Street and reprogramming those traffic signals.
There is also an effort underway to provide additional washrooms for the public, given there is only one public washroom open in the downtown.
Banff council voted Monday (May 25) to close the 100 and 200 blocks of Banff Avenue and a portion of Caribou Street beginning June 5 until Sept. 11.
Canmore Council approved the proposal to help businesses hit hard by the economic crisis meet health regulations by allowing the expansion of sidewalk seating for restaurants and the possibility of outdoor retail options.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly reported that a scramble crosswalk would be installed at the intersection of Sixth Avenue and Main Street.