Whitehorse residents and businesses are being asked for their thoughts of the possibility of a pedestrian town square along part of Main Street through the summer months.
The City of Whitehorse launched a survey about it on March 22 at EngageWhitehorse.ca with a map that shows the potential area on Main Street from Second Avenue to Front Street.
“This temporary pilot project consists of turning Main Street into a pedestrian-only square between Second Avenue and Front Street,” city officials said in a statement. “This square will serve as a downtown hub for people to gather, eat, and shop.”
The possibility of a town square in the area emerged in January when Coun. Ted Laking put forward the concept of a one-year pilot project to convert the area for the summer. Expanded patio spaces, greenery, picnic tables and more could be part of the concept were highlighted as possibilities for the area when council directed staff to look at it.
In putting forward the idea, Laking pointed out pedestrian-only streets are becoming more common elsewhere as a way to encourage more vibrant communities.
“The goal here is to bring excitement back to our Main Street: to make it a real destination, to reignite the downtown core, to support small businesses in the community that rely on Main Street,” he said at the time.
While council members ultimately supported having staff look at the issue and highlighted the benefits, some thought there would be issues that will need to be addressed if the proposal goes ahead, including accessibility for those with mobility challenges and addressing access for commercial vehicles who deliver to businesses in the area.
The Engage Whitehorse page highlights priorities in the city’s Downtown Plan that could be met with the pedestrian town square including improvements to the design of the Main Street commercial area; improving connections between Main Street, Whitehorse City Hall, MacBride Museum, Second Avenue and the waterfront; supporting downtown businesses; and possibly providing additional bike racks, washrooms and seating.
Input gathered from the survey will be used in the planning for the area. City staff are also planning to reach out directly to businesses in the area in the coming weeks.
The survey closes on April 5.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at firstname.lastname@example.org