Inglewood celebrates 1st ‘Car Free Sunday,’ closes part of Ninth Avenue to traffic

Inglewood launched the first of its Car Free Sundays initiative on Aug. 1, which aims to encourage Calgarians to stroll through the neighbourhood and support local businesses.

The community announced last week that it will close Ninth Avenue S.E. between 11th Street and 14th Street to traffic each Sunday in August from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Dan Allard, the chair of the Inglewood Business Improvement Association, said the car-free initiative is the first of its kind in Calgary, and is designed to allow business owners the freedom to be creative and engage with the public.

Dan Allard, the chair of the Inglewood business improvement association, said that if Car Free Sundays proves popular with visitors and merchants, it might be continued. (Marie Chabot-Johnson/CBC)

“It’s just going to be a fun way for people to explore Ninth [Avenue], and in a nice and distant manner … at their own leisure,” Allard said.

“Creativity is going to guide what happens here, and businesses are allowed to bring their apparel out front on the sidewalk if they like, or shops might set up a little mini ramp with some skateboard activities.”

Jordan Rumrill, the floor manager of Monki Bistro, said it seemed like a good opportunity to attract business.

“We’re excited to maybe interact with some of the walkers-by, and to see if we can kind of get them in,” Rumrill said.

Calgary’s historic main street

Car Free Sundays was conceptualized with the City of Calgary and the Inglewood Business Improvement Association to allow visitors to enjoy the neighbourhood as it was before traffic.

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said that Inglewood’s history and abundance of unique businesses make it ideal for an initiative that “celebrates walking around.”

“Ninth Avenue is … Calgary’s historic main street,” said Carra. “It is home to an amazing merchant community of very few chains … [and that] breeds a very interesting culture.”

Local businesses in Inglewood are encouraged to sell goods on the sidewalk or get creative in attracting foot traffic, Dan Allard said. (Thomas Laberge/CBC)

The COVID-19 pandemic which pushed people to enjoy the outdoors also played a role, he said.

“There was … a willingness to expand the vitality that you see on the street when you take it back from the cars,” Carra said.

“And so I think it’s a perfect pilot project, it’s perfectly timely, and it’s in the perfect location.”

If Car Free Sundays prove popular with visitors and merchants, Allard said the initiative might be continued.

“It’s gonna depend on the temperature test and the opinion of the businesses,” Allard said.

“If they like it, then yeah … we’ll try and expand on it.”

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