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Queen Street seasonal road closure begins tomorrow

Queen Street between Guelph Avenue and Tannery Street will be closed to vehicle traffic every weekend until Sept. 1
A section of Queen Street will be blocked off from vehicles on the weekend until Sept. 1.

Those commuting by car will need to find a detour when travelling through the heart of Hespeler Village on the weekend.

The #WalkQueen seasonal road closure begins tomorrow at 4 p.m. and runs every weekend until Sept. 1. The section of the street between Guelph Avenue and Tannery Street reopens each Sunday at 5 p.m.

The goal for the Hespeler BIA is to increase foot traffic to enhance business in the core.

In a survey put out by the city to gather feedback on the initiative, 74 per cent of respondents viewed the closure as a positive and 75 per cent had interest in it continuing.

However, only 46 per cent preferred the Friday to Sunday schedule.

This year, the length of the closure has been reduced by a month, in part to meet in the middle with those opposed to the closure.

"The shortened season is a combination of an olive branch to disenfranchised business owners to demonstrate the BIA's willingness to compromise in combination with managing staffing and budgets," Cory de Villiers, chair of the Hespeler BIA, said last month.

"Our intent is to throw a shorter, more intensive series of events to maximize the summer months.  We envision Walk Queen 2024 to be our biggest and best year yet."

Marina Radulovic, owner of Blooms of Paradise flower shop, is one of the business owners not in favour of the disruption to vehicle traffic.

While she sees the benefit to restaurants and cafe's, she questions the overall economic impact and purpose behind it.

"I've found business owners aren't happy," Radulovic said.

"They've only really advertised two restaurants in the village but what about us? They're probably scared to say something but why? The BIA should work for us. I find this doesn't work."

Despite some being unhappy, the core has welcomed several new businesses of late.

Residents will have a few new dining experiences to try, as Indian restaurant Currynama, Mexican restaurant Sazon and the Brazilian eatery Bossa Nova have all recently opened.

"The BIA has been discussing the international dining scene with Explore Waterloo and we're hoping they will promote us as a road trip destination that will appeal not only to residents but also people from Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph and beyond," de Villiers said when Currynama opened earlier this month.

"Restaurants, bars and cafes are extremely effective as clusters. When an area achieves critical mass, the individual restaurants benefit from being part of a greater whole."

The Main Street road closure in Galt has also started and runs until Oct. 15.