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Editorial: Should Patricia Street close during the summers?

Peter Shokeir | editorial@fitzhugh.ca

Another summer is just around the corner, and as both pedestrian and vehicular traffic are set to increase along Jasper’s busiest corridor, we are forced to ask if one form of traffic should get preference to the other.

It has been proposed in the past that Patricia Street ought to be closed between Hazel and Miette avenues during the summer months.

Last year, Banff closed its main street, in part, to ensure social distancing during the pandemic and is set to do so again this summer.

With no indication that Jasper will close Patricia Street this year or that the pandemic will go into the summer of 2022, Jasper has probably missed the chance to justify the street closure as a health measure.

But there still remains the opportunity to promote foot traffic for local businesses, reduce the chance of a motor vehicle injuring a pedestrian and better accommodate patio seating for restaurants.

In terms of implementation costs to the municipality, all it would take would be a few concrete barricades along with signage and marketing.

There are, of course, logistical challenges to this closure.

Parking would overflow to other areas, and the municipality may lose revenue once paid parking is enacted.

Tour buses would have to stop at the train station, businesses would be relegated to using only back-alley access for deliveries and those with mobility issues could face additional hurdles.

Access to TGP is also an issue, although perhaps allowing for two-way traffic between Miette and the grocery store parking lot would solve this problem.

Jasper has been committed to promoting pedestrian traffic, and with the amount of pedestrians who don’t always look both ways before crossing the street, there may be a need to pilot this project in a not-to-distant summer.

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