By Joanne McDonald
If area residents notice a lot of hustle and bustle in downtown Grimsby this Thursday that is thanks to a whirlwind of organizing to shift Main Street’s pedestrian walkway onto north side parking.
The move will make space on the sidewalk for extended patios for the four restaurants along that stretch – should they choose to use it – also giving retailers an opportunity to use the space in front of their shops for displays of their own.
The move is seen as very positive by Town officials, Grimsby’s Downtown Improvement Area board and merchants, but it was not without headaches to get to this point, said Mayor Jeff Jordan.
“There have been issues and we are working on those but this is nothing but good news,” said Jordan.
“We now have two, hopefully three of the restaurants will be using the sidewalk to add seating space and we are moving into Stage 3 of COVID-19 recovery on Friday, so timing is perfect and we hope it all works out well for our valued downtown merchants and restaurants.”
The effort to get all directions harnessed to have things in place as soon as possible included Niagara Region, Town, DIA, merchants and suppliers which will get infrastructure in place.
As of Tuesday morning, it is expected Main Street will be closed to traffic at 7 a.m. on Thursday to allow for installation of cement barriers which will block off the northside on-street parking spaces.
Pedestrians moving along the north side will be rerouted to the corridor through the parking spaces with access to all retailers and patios.
“We are working a beautification plan to make everything look great and create a very different and vibrant atmosphere,” said DIA president Mike Williscraft, who added that the Town came to play on this file.
“I have addressed the earlier issues with the Town they understand the impacts staff’s earlier decisions made – both in terms of time and financial – but I can say staff really delivered to get this done in a matter of days. We needed a lot to go right and it did.”
Grimsby chief administrative officer Harry Schlange echoed those sentiments at Monday’s council meeting.
“I am very proud of how we worked together on this,” Schlange told council.
The barriers are projected to cost $23,000 with use booked into October. The DIA chipped in $3,000 on that cost and will take responsibility for the beautification aspect.
Teddy’s Food, Fun & Spirits, Casa Toscana and 40 Public House all plan to have their sidewalk expansions in place for Friday – the first day of Stage 3 when they will also be able to host customers indoors for the first time since March.
40 Public House as well as several other eateries had major issues with a new policy put in place by the Town demanding a $5 million liabiity coverage – up from $2 million. One could not get a quote, others closed deals with their insurer and 40 Public closed for two weeks because they could not afford it.
Monday night, council officially rolled that back for 2020. This was a major stumbling block; once removed, everything was set to go.