News5th Street closure looking to enhance physical distancing SHARE ON: Jon Gauthier, staff Wednesday, Jul. 22nd, 2020 5th Street in downtown Courtenay. (Photo by Kim Stallknecht)Starting this weekend, you will be able to walk down 5th Street without the usual sound and clutter of cars. Courtenay council has approved a request from the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association (DCBIA) to close a section of the road to vehicles this Saturday.The closure would apply to 5th Street between Cliffe and England Avenues between 9:00am to 7:00pm and hopes to give more space for physical distancing in the downtown core.Courtenay’s Manager of Transportation and Utilities Kyle Shaw says the city will be closely working with (DCBIA) and if it’s successful, it may be extended on future Saturdays through mid-September.“Staff have the opportunity and the board members post this first closure to get feedback from the members and their encounters with the public this weekend to ensure that this is effective and is meeting the needs of the user groups and then expand that if necessary, or if not for that matter.”“As this evolves there’s really going to be a back and forth between the DCBIA and the city to understand of the use of the road service and the reception of it and the idea behind it, and the approvals that have been put in place are really to allow the public to utilize that road space to create physical and social distancing,” explained Shaw. During the closure, the DCBIA will track customer counts and conduct member surveys to inform updated market protocols as necessary, including the possibility of extending the market footprint to adjacent blocks.The City of Courtenay and the DCBIA will meet immediately after the first Saturday road closure to determine what changes may be necessary for the initiative to continue. Councillor Manno Theos says this closure could be a good test run for when work starts on the 5th Street bridge next year. “I’m excited about this opportunity, we’ve been calling for it for years and hoping that a pilot project such as this would move forward. Now we get to see in action how that response is going to be from the public.”“I do feel like this is good to give people an opportunity to actually utilize downtown without the opportunity with their vehicles because next year when the bridge is being worked on, this will be a good test run for people to be able to access downtown without their vehicle.”Courtenay has set aside $12,400 for the initiative, which will cover the cost of the closure and other expenses like staff wages, signage and traffic control until mid-September.To learn more, visit the City of Courtenay’s website.