About a year ago, Peterborough City Council went ahead with a by-law which changed how and when park space could be used. There was limited consultation when the by-law was passed. At the time, homeless people camping in Victoria Park and Confederation Square felt left out. This past weekend there was outrage from the Downtown Business Improvement Area (DBIA) when the City of Peterborough Council voted to close George Street for the entire weekend to help improve social distancing around patios in the downtown due to COVID-19. While there is less traffic, or should be, it would be a perfect time to expand space for pedestrians. In addition, Peterborough declared a climate emergency last September so more space for active transportation should be welcomed even if temporary. George Street is regularly closed for festivals, events and demonstrations so it is nothing new to close it. These two cases might show that when businesses complain, change to policy or laws are likely to happen, but when homeless folks complain, does anything happen? In addition, consultation is critical before items are passed at City Council. At a time when demands for tackling racial inequality are growing across the world including in Canada, it is time to evaluate who the City of Peterborough listens to and when changes to laws or policy are made.
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