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Options rejected for Open Air boundary expansion for this year

Updated: 40 minutes ago

Open Air aerial photo
Photo by Windsor Aerial Drone Photography

There will be no extension to the Open Air Weekends footprint this year, but the door is still left open for 2025.

Four options were presented to town council in a report by deputy CAO/director of development services Melissa Osborne with town council merely opting to receive the report without choosing any of those options. Businesses along the southern edge of the boundary along Dalhousie St. expressed interest in being allowed into the footprint, citing business drop-off by being outside of the boundary.

Options presented to town council included creating a new access through the King's Navy Yard Park extension, a barrier around the on-street parking in front of the Queen Charlotte condominiums, barriers at the entrance to Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 that would be monitored and moved for access to the condominiums across the street and a “zig-zag” entrance to the Queen Charlotte site.

Osborne's report stated administration “strongly discourages” the first three option due to their risks but called the fourth option – the “zig zag” entrance -feasible, though with risks of its own.

Mayor Michael Prue asked about the costs for the latter option and was told it would be between $4,000-$11,000 depending on the type of barriers.

Councillor Peter Courtney said the same type of concerns weren't identified at the northern edge of the boundary along Dalhousie St., and wondered what the difference was between the Queen Charlotte condominiums and the Salmoni Condominiums.

“(Salmoni owners) are right in the heart of that thing and have to go through a public parking lot,” he said. “Why is it so difficult to get a solution just further down?”

Osborne said the barriers on the north end are put south of the entrance to the lot where the south end see the barriers allow Queen Charlotte owners to get access to their building. Businesses on the north end have not expressed concerns about being able to be part of Open Air Weekends, she said.

Councillor Linden Crain said all four options present risks to pedestrians, he believed. He also wanted to know how space could be “activated” to draw more space to the south end of the footprint.

Osborne said she has been in discussions with Flow Cafe and Bikes ownership on how to program space near the business to bring more people down that way. Councillor Don McArthur suggested the Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 could set up a booth in the Open Air footprint to attract new members and to spread the word on events the Legion presents. Osborne said she could follow up on McArthur's suggestion.

Director of parks, facilities and recreation Heidi Baillargeon said she expects to hear from the province regarding the opening of the King's Navy Yard Park by late August. Work that still has to be done could mean fencing might come down late this year or early next year. Prue noted Osborne's report that additional options could be available once the extension lands are open, with Osborne saying “more momentum” could be created once people are able to start walking through the property.

Prue said forgoing the expenditure this year and having a better option next year once the park extension opens could be the better way to proceed.

“If you are going to do something, do it well,” said Prue. “Next year, we'll do it well. There's no sense in doing a half-measure here that isn't going to work, going to cost a lot of money and could be dangerous.”

Courtney noted he dined in Kingsville recently and said brochures that were presented, created in partnership with Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI), and featured QR codes to help market businesses there.

“It was genius to me and TWEPI supported it,” he said.Courtney said he wouldn't support any of the options due to cost, risk and what could happen once the King's Navy Yard extension is complete.

McArthur said he is a big supporter of Open Air Weekends but supported simply receiving the report without adopting any of the recommendations. He also wanted to wait for the park extension to be opened and thanked administration for its work on the report.

“We're square-pegging a round hole,” he said. “It doesn't make sense in this instance.”

Deputy Mayor Chris Gibb said ideally there would be a great solution to the issue this year “but we're just not there.” Gibb said spending money from reserves this year on a less than ideal solution was not the way to go.

“That's a bridge too far for me,” said Gibb.

Councillor Molly Allaire said she has attended all six days of Open Air this year and credited staff for emphasizing businesses outside the footprint. She said student workers hand out information with other events and businesses.

The motion to receive the report only carried unanimously.

Options rejected for Open Air boundary expansion for this year

By Ron Giofu

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