Downtown Summerside Inc. ought to be commended for its plan to create a ‘social square’ on Water Street.
For the rest of the summer more than 100 metres, between Spring and Summer streets, will be operating as a square for foot traffic only. It’s different for us to be sure, but it’s not a new idea. In fact it’s being done in cities and towns all over, and in some cases has been for a long, long time.
From July 19 to Sept. 1, residents and visitors alike will be treated to a pedestrian mall designed to bring people out of their stores and vehicles and into the street. It’s worth a shot.
So, starting on July 21, there will be entertainment and art demonstrations in the square.
A group from Art in Motion at Culture Summerside will perform each day from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the sidewalks. Having entertainment is important to draw new people, says Pam Schurman-Montgomery. So is mixing things up by doing things like creating a social square. It keeps people from using the same old excuse that there’s nothing new to see and do.
The downtown merchants seem to be on board. Included among them is Big Mug bar owner Mario Sham.
"It's always good for a small city to try new things," he said.
If successful the plan will get people to explore the shops and restaurants in the area. The core has more to offer than most people realize and as the folks at Downtown Summerside Inc. say, there is a need for this type of thing. Who knows? It could even spur growth. But in order for the trial to work, everyone will have to be onboard, even through the rough patches that will no doubt pop up.
"No one can continue with the same efforts and look for different results," said Brent Gallant, the group’s president. "If this works, we'll celebrate, then look at ways to bring it back again.
"This is a good thing for Summerside. If people aren't willing to try then we'll never change," said Gallant.
He couldn’t be more right.