LONDON, ONT. -- A plan to close Dundas Place to vehicle traffic and expand restaurant patios onto the street on weekends is well intentioned, but won’t work for all types of businesses.

That’s what the manager of one Dundas Place pub had to say about the latest initiative by the city and Downtown London.

The Scot’s Corner manager, Billy Thomson, said he appreciates the effort, but it just won’t work for the late night bar business.

“This is busy on a Friday or Saturday night, we’re allowed to stay open till two o’clock in the morning, as everybody knows. So to tell them, ‘Yeah you gotta pack it up, we gotta move in this expanded patio they’ve given us,’ it just doesn’t make much sense to tell them to leave, go inside now. Then the staff gotta leave, they gotta take down all these tables and chairs.”

What the plan does do is get more feet on the street. Grooves record store owner Troy Hutchison said every little bit helps.

“I feel this is a really potentially amazing pedestrian space, and the easier it is for people to wal around, the better we’re going to do as a business.”

In spite of various initiatives to bring back business, and the beautification efforts as of late, the signs of struggle are evident downtown, with vacant buildings and empty storefronts lining the Dundas strip.

Coffee Culture owner Shane Kenneth said he worries about the impression that leaves.

“It’s disheartening. I know it’s a lot of vacant buildings and I’m hoping that some of the landlords or the people that own these buildings are going to try to encourage people to come down and open up shop.”

Andrew McClenaghan, who chairs the board of directors for Downtown London, said it’s hard to say if some of the businesses that closed during the pandemic will come back.

He says this new initiative is all about drumming up business in a time of social distancing, and supporting the recovery of downtown merchants.

“There has to be this mentality of ‘we’re in this together.” Not just businesses as a whole, but also the consituents of London that will come down and support these businesses.”

The city says the move will add further flexibility for physical distancing as more businesses prepare to open patios and foot traffic increases in the core.

“While Dundas Place is not able to host traditional events or summer festivals downtown at this time, the city can still take advantage of the flex street’s ability to open and close to vehicle traffic, said Mayor Ed Holder in a statement.

The city is also adding temporary sanitization stations throughout Dundas Place.

It will be closed to traffic between Wellington Street and Talbot Street at the following times:

  • Friday evenings between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Saturday evenings between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
  • Sundays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.