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Showcasing Thunder Bay’s south end

Fort William BIA test drives pedestrian mall concept

The Fort William Business Improvement Area (BIA) temporarily closed off a section of Victoria Avenue in Thunder Bay’s south end on August 15 for a pedestrian mall setting.

Known as the Fort William Urban Park pilot project, Victoria Avenue East between Brodie and May Streets was between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and the street was filled with community partner booths, local businesses, vendors, live entertainment and activities for children.

The event is one of many ongoing community efforts to revitalize the Fort William core where many small businesses have moved into once-vacant storefronts.

Done in partnership with the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, Crime Prevention Council, South Core Public Safety Task Force, The HUB Bazaar, and Victoriaville Mall, Fort William BIA coordinator Kristina Belanger said the urban park concept was introduced with a goal in mind.

“Our goal with the event is to draw more people to our neighbourhood and in turn promote the individual businesses, as well as the business community as a whole. We hope that the event serves as a way to engage our members with each other, and with the people who come out to enjoy the festivities.”

This event is modeled after a similar initiative organized by Downtown Timmins BIA for the last seven summers where a couple of blocks within its downtown core are closed to vehicular traffic and made into a pedestrian-friendly area from Wednesday to Friday each week.

“Not only has the Timmins BIA seen traffic to the downtown increase significantly and businesses thrive as a result of this initiative, but they have also seen decreases in crime and disorder issues in the neighbourhood,” said Lee-Ann Chevrette, coordinator of the Crime Prevention Council.