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Pedestrian Sundays revisited


Oh help me Rhonda. I may need to have my head examined, but after posting a piece about Kensington Market losing their funding for a summer of Pedestrian Sundays, and receiving more love letters than usual, I decided it was my obligation to actually go and see what all of the fuss was about. Pedestrian Sundays, if you don't already know, is a neighbourhood initiative to close off the local streets to traffic and open them up to those sans automobile. The kids can play, the adults can frolic and if you're lucky you can play and frolic at the same time. A marvelous idea.

I drove by Sunday afternoon (okay, off on the wrong foot already) and grabbed a front row seat to the action; people mulling about and enjoying themselves in the summer heat (and a little rain). Were they having fun? Sure. No one looked too upset about using their feet and the vendors seemed happy enough to have the extra 'foot' traffic and business. The scene reminded me of Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade which is permanently closed to traffic or New York's Canal Street which might as well be closed with all of the pedestrians zigzagging back and forth. In Montreal they do the same thing each year for the Grand Prix, but it is more for the economics. Bars and restaurants swoop out into the closed roads and erect huge patios and dance floors.

So the question becomes, whom are Pedestrian Sundays designed for? The local businesses, the community at large or is it for the rest of us (me especially), as if to say, "Hey, look at what we did"? Considering it is now just four lone days of the summer and you can get the same experience by wandering around Queen's Quay or the islands every day of the week, it's still up in the air. I suppose I thought going down there might change my opinion, but it really didn't. It's not so much that anyone wants to drive through Kensington and that closing those specific streets are much of an inconvenience, but asking the city for tax dollars to close a road managed by tax dollars is just wrong.

That being said, the day seemed to be a success and in general, everyone had fun. I even ended up with a new pair of cheap sunglasses.

Photo: kensmarket.com


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