Should We Permanently Close Ontario Street in Front of City Hall?

Once the Third Crossing opens near the end of this year, there will be an improved flow of commuter traffic to and from the east end and that means fewer vehicles passing through the downtown. This opens the door to new possibilities. One opportunity would be to permanently close Market Street and the block of Ontario Street in front of City Hall to create new park space for pedestrians and an expanded location for festivals and other community events. Confederation Park is an incredible public space and I believe the time is right to revitalize this whole area and create a new, spectacular waterfront destination just like what we did at Breakwater Park.

At our City Council meeting next week, we’ll be looking to launch public consultation into the potential closure of these two streets and also consider some important recommendations to help strengthen the downtown and to help both individuals and businesses in recovery from the pandemic. These ideas include supports and employment opportunities for vulnerable residents, permanent expanded patio spaces for downtown businesses, downtown cleaning crews, and new garbage and recycling containers to name a few. After two years of distancing and separation during the pandemic, I’m excited to start working on new spaces where we can gather together again as a community, but I’d also like to know what you think. Should we close Market Street and this portion of Ontario Street to expand Confederation Park or not? Write a comment below and let me know what you think.

72 Responses

  1. James Leslie says:

    Of all the cities in the world my wife and I have visited, our favourites are those that already have a no vehicular traffic allowed streets. Please add our Kingston to our list. Thank-you.

  2. Martine Thivierge-Bournival says:

    I agree that it’s a very good idea and that it will revitalize our downtown; makes it more accessible and beautiful. However, I would wait until the third crossing is operational to do so to not inconvinience the traffic downtown that will restart to be heavy since madates are being lifted and people are starting to go back to work physically.

  3. Margaret Ruttan says:

    I think this is an amazing idea and I sincerely hope it is passed at council.

  4. Anya Kelly says:

    Yes we should close permanently Ontario st from Brock street to Johnson st. This would encourage more visitors to downtown (much needed) and increase their safety while strolling around. Also this would encourage more outdoor dining and vendor stalls, etc…..a win win all around.
    Anya Kelly.

  5. Cindy Price says:

    Please don’t close Ontario St. It’s a major artery for people from the east to get to the south side of the city. Also the fastest route to the hospital for emergency vehicles. If I’m travelling from the east side to anywhere south of Princess St, then I will continue to use the Causeway and Ontario.

    Speaking of Ontario St… the entry into the city via the causeway needs to be freshened up, it looks dreadful and is not a welcoming site. Fort Frontenac is a nice site, but it has terrible grounds keeping – whoever is responsible for the appearance of the entry way into the city past the RMC arch really needs to clean this up and make it look as nice as it should. I’d be happy to help and/or to advise on what needs to be done.

    Perhaps add a traffic light at the corner of Brock and Ontario to allow for safe passage across the street. If add traffic light, then remove the optional pedestrian walkway crossing to City Hall.

  6. Gerry Shellington says:

    Yes, close it. While you are at it, look at another street to close. We could use a pedestrian only area for festivals and more outdoor dining venues, like Sparks St in Ottawa. Like all cities in Europe who recognize the value of a vibrant, pedestrian only area of a downtown.

  7. Brent Clute says:

    Yes, close it please, make downtown more walkable.

  8. Cera Langille says:

    100% no. Absolutely not. This is a terrible idea and the fact that it is even being considered is ridiculous given that we’re building a bridge in the East end (where I live) to help decongest the city traffic. Block it off during special events – but not permanently. You’ll be taking away 2 very busy stops for the route 3 downtown bus and forcing one traffic up brick turning left on king and back down Johnson to get onto ontario. Plus, it is an important ambulance route from the East end. Terrible idea. Please don’t.

  9. Jan Allen says:

    It’s a lovely idea with great potential to make downtown a more lake-oriented destination. The challenge: there will still be a need to accommodate traffic coming in from the east side of Kingston from the causeway and even from the ferry, both commuters and tourists.

  10. Dave says:

    Absolutely not! All you are doing is moving the traffic problem further up the road to the new bridge. If the city wasn’t short sighted in putting in a bridge that only has 1 lane in each direction and put in a multi-lane bridge to handle the traffic I would agree with closing Ontario Street. Maybe when the city builds the 4th, 5th and 6th crossings you can explore that option. If you have ever had to sit through traffic congestion when the 401 is closed due to a traffic collision it takes hours to get across.

  11. Cera Langille says:

    100% no. Absolutely not. This is a terrible idea and the fact that it is even being considered is ridiculous given that we’re building a bridge in the East end (where I live) to help decongest the city traffic. Block it off during special events – but not permanently. You’ll be taking away 2 very busy stops for the route 3 downtown bus and forcing traffic up Brock turning left on king and back down Johnson to get back onto Ontario. Plus, it is an important ambulance route from the East end. Terrible idea. Please don’t.

  12. Lil Campbell says:

    I live in the east end on highway 2 and would prefer that Ontario Street remain open as is. Closing it for special events is wonderful unless that is getting too costly to do. I drop teenagers off at the Market Square often preferring Market Street . With the left turning lane on Brock to King, it is just that a turning lane. The only time I was able to stop there was during the seesaw closure.
    I am also concerned that the Ontario Street area would become more of an encampment area.
    We have sure an incredible beautiful city and you do an amazing job with so much foresight.

  13. I think closing Market Street and a block of Ontario street is a fantastic idea. Why not try to improve our already beautiful downtown. It might be well to consider where the out of town tour buses would be directed though. Also many local and out of town visitors to the downtown area could be elderly and not able to walk long distances or take advantage of public transit, and while I know we are trying to reduce the use of vehicles, especially in the downtown core, convenient parking should not be abandoned.

  14. Gordon Gale says:

    I’m on the fence as to whether it would be of benefit to see Ontario Street closed to traffic.
    A trial closure maybe prudent to ultimately determine the benefits of such a move.

    Some of the items that concern me are…
    Parking… if this is to be a en masse gathering place.
    Traffic being diverted.

    Again not sure why it would not be feasible to close this area several times a year to really determine the benefits as opposed just speculating.

  15. Chris Catry says:

    Having seen this idea work extremely effectively in other cities that have significant summer tourism, such as Charlottetown PEI, I think this has great merit. I would suggest that it only occur during tourist season, perhaps from Victoria Day weekend until Thanksgiving, and only after the new Cataraqui crossing is completed and operating.

  16. vern says:

    You’ve got to be kidding, give your head a shake. It is already difficult to get around and through the downtown area for business and/or pleasure. The 3rd crossing will not help this. You’re assumption that the 3rd crossing will alleviate this is not even close to being on target. You didn’t listen to citizens that a 3rd closing bridge needed to be 4 lanes and while the pending 2 lanes will help to relieve some eastern traffic for those who wish to go the the businesses on Gardners and area, it is far from perfect. Time the city council take the WHOLE of Kingston resident needs and concerns seriously.

  17. Trevor Parry says:

    Stop this nonsense at once. This is one of the key access roads from the east side to KGH when time is of the essence…!!

  18. L. Willits says:

    This is a ridiculous idea. East Enders have waited years and years for a third crossing. It’s not a third crossing when you close the street that leads directly to one of the crossings!
    If there is an accident on the 401 that closes the highway, we are again stranded with only one route to the east end and instead of the gridlock downtown over the causeway….you’re just moving all the traffic to gridlock somewhere else.
    Making taxpayers take a detour around downtown, to get to the east end is not conducive to a city that claims to be so concerned with climate change and being green.

  19. Tandie tanner says:

    Closing Ontario Street would close an access road way for emergency vehicles to access KGH on the fast as possible Route.
    I have no idea how this idea is even being tabled.

  20. Robin Dawes says:

    Yes, absolutely. I have been in favour of closing these blocks for years.

  21. Teresa Petrocco says:

    Kingston is a small town and there is no security risk at city hall. Tourists have ample space to visit the downtown and go to shops further north. Closing the street for the occasional festival works perfectly.


  22. Lorne Kinsella says:

    No, it’s a direct link to the hospital from the Cause Way.

  23. Karen Mattes says:

    No – please don’t close this permanently. It’s already difficult enough to park at the BMO branch. Plus all of us east enders will still need to get to KGH, Queen’s and SLC, for many reasons, and that’s the most direct route. Having to turn up Queen or Brock, then turn left onto smaller/busier streets some with parking on both sides, stop signs, or buses, well, it just doesn’t make sense.

  24. Michael Fortune says:

    This is a main route to several key places downtown. No it should not be closed. Keep it the way it is.

  25. Stephanie says:

    Not a good idea. Ontario street is a direct route to hospital. Downtown already hard enough to navigate with the one ways.

  26. Kelly Donovan says:

    Yes! I would love this

  27. Mike Hamilton says:

    Traffic is too congested now.

  28. Michael Byrne says:

    Ontario street in front of city hall should not be closed. The street provides the most direct route for people in the east end to get to KGH. Sometime city hall forgets that people live in the east end.

  29. Lisa Prior says:

    No this a main artery to the hospitals to RMC to the east end, yes the third crossing will be an option soon, but do we want to just move the congestion or do we want to have 3 viable means of getting across town to spread out the traffic. The east end has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few years, so I think that 3 options seems like the best option to me.

  30. Shannon Pester says:

    This is a horrible idea. The east side of the city needs access to the hospital. It makes building the 3rd crossing pointless.

  31. Keith W Hutton says:

    Yes, for all the right reasons mentioned.

  32. Andrea Piraino says:

    Absolutely not.
    That would prevent the most direct access to KGH for all of us in the east end.

  33. Aveleigh Kyle, RN,KGH says:

    This is a vital ambulance route for KGH. The 3rd crossing will not change that. A big NO.

  34. Alan anderson says:

    I believe this should not be done! I’m okay with special event closures, but permanent closure is absurd and uncalled for.

  35. Mitch seguin says:

    Occasional special events closure but never a permanent closure.

  36. Kris Hebert says:

    I think it’s a great idea.

  37. Kevin says:

    No, we shouldn’t close any section of Ontario Street.

  38. Margaret Kennedy says:

    NO. Do not close Ontario Street. It’s hard enough to maneuver driving downtown as it is. Even with the new bridge there will still be traffic. I am 💯% against this proposal.

  39. Elizabeth Johnston says:

    This is the quickest way to work for those of us who live in the east end but work at the hospital. I already spend 12-16 hours working and I do not want the commute to and from to be any longer than it needs to be

  40. David L Poss says:

    I think its a dumb Idea to close that portion of Ontario Street. The traffic is congested enough downtown so why restrict it even more. Not to mention its a provides quick access to KGH and Hotel Dieu hospital. Build an overhead walkway if its deemed so important to walk across the road. Also the Mayor is making an assumption the traffic will be eased once the 3rd crossing is open, This in fact remains to be seen. It may well in fact be just as busy. Mabey wait a year or so after the 3rd crossing is open to see in fact this is the case. Parking is one of the biggest problems in that area there are lots full of rubble that have not been worked on in years why not sort that mess out instead closing a main route along the water way that gives alternate vital access to our hospitals.

  41. Geoff says:

    No. There’s plenty of community space downtown with messing with traffic.

  42. Marie-Claude says:

    No, don’t close Ontario street! That’s crazy

  43. Amanda Feilberg says:

    No, please don’t. This would be extremely inconvenient and frustrating, especially for us travelling from the east side (regardless of the third crossing). I could see closing it got special events but I really hope it doesn’t get shut permanently, there is lots of pedestrian space by the waterfront and market square already.

  44. Katharine says:

    Ontario St closure suggestion.

    No thank you but maybe every Saturday. This is commonplace in Uk where I come from originally.

    But please don’t close it permanently

  45. Christine INNOCENTE says:

    Please do. To be a community, you need common places to gather. Close the street to cars to make room for true community

  46. Beth Pye says:

    It would be inexcusable to block Ontario street in front of city hall. This is a crucial route for Kingston East residents to access emergency medical services at KGH and Hotel Dieu. Mayor Patterson, your team needs to remember that with aging infrastructure Kingston often has road closures such as the recent one on King Street. Unnecessary time would be added to any hospital trip with the additional closure of Ontario Street.

  47. S. Cassista says:


  48. Christopher says:

    No! Key route from east to KGH.

  49. Jeff says:

    No, we shouldn’t.

  50. Tania Grift says:

    The third crossing is to improve the flow of traffic for the east end community.
    Why would you close Ontario street, where paramedics use to get patients to the hospital, and east end families use to get to and from home/work.
    The third crossing shouldn’t be a reason we close other means of travel.

  51. Linda Day says:

    Definitely not. It is a vital route to KGH, particularly from the east side.

  52. Mary Delaney says:

    Market Street is where I used to park in the designated handicapped parking spots. When others, entitled to them or not were not using them. We need those spots. Please ensure there are at least 2 or 3 handicapped parking spots on every block of the downtown. They are in short supply. We who are disabled simply cannot walk far enough to use the downtown if there is nowhere to park. I went downtown with my cane via taxi one busy summer day this year. Took an expensive taxi, because I knew I would not be able to park. I saw absolutely NO OTHER disabled people with canes, walkers or wheelchairs that day. Why? Because we are not able to get there as there is very little consideration given to our needs.

  53. Sandrs Candow says:

    Absolutely not!
    That is a major road that connects the East side to the rest of Kingston. Even with the new bridge open, closing Ontario street will slow the access of ambulances and emergency vehicles to and from hwy 15 corridor. The movement and fluidity of traffic through the downtown core is slow and convoluted enough already.
    Closures of Ontario street for functions is good enough.

  54. Sherry Head says:

    No do not close Ontario street.

  55. Great idea. The more pedestrianization that can happen in the downtown the better! – Along with safe bike parking!

  56. Moira Nicholas says:

    I think it is a BAD idea. I have been caught in the gridlock on the surrounding streets several times when the road was closed – especially in summertime with tourists not knowing how to get around it. It would also greatly hinder ambulances trying to get to KGH. Close occasionally for special events only.

  57. Jennifer Innocente says:

    No it should not be closed. I live in the east end and if I have to go into the Township or the mall I take Brock St or Queen St,. Today I was driving my husband to the hospital on Brook Street. Brock Street had two large trucks bringing merchandise into stores and restaurants. Traffic on Brook Street was only one lane. Coming home I took Wellington to Queen and there was a FedEx truck and a Purolator truck blocking one lane on Wellington. This would be a nightmare with heavier traffic and ambulances trying to circumvent traffic to get to KGH.

  58. Bernice Parrott says:


  59. Owen Brook says:

    Don’t be crazy! At least wait a year from the opening of the third crossing before trying this.

  60. Erika S. says:

    No. The streets around downtown are tight to begin with sharing the space with parked cars. Removing this important road, forcing cars to wend throughout the downtown core will increase the hazard for pedestrians.

  61. Kaitlin Greenlees says:

    No. This is a direct route to KGH and area, as well as access to nearby stores. Also a nice way to see city hall and waterfront when biking, walking and driving. Parking is decent on this stretch and most often used. Lastly, closing this street permanently will further congest our downtown streets.

    Thanks for your time.

  62. James says:

    No no no.

  63. James says:

    No No No

  64. Jessica Covey says:

    Please do not permanently close Ontario street in front of city hall. It is a main road through to KGH. I live in the east end and already worry about quick access to the hospital in case of emergency. Closing Ontario street there would just cause more congestion, third crossing or not.

  65. Dana Salsbury says:

    I think it makes more sense to close the streets King and Market around Market square. It’s already been cobble stoned and feels more established as a pedestrian area.

    The tour trolley uses Ontario and would keep the flow of traffic from getting too congested up Brock Street.

  66. Sarah Balint says:

    Great concept BUT:
    I think it would be better to permanently close the same block on King St. (and Market St. as proposed). This side of City Hall is already a bustling and popular Square. Closing the same block ion King St. would expand this already established, well-loved space. We have just had it closed for Feb. Fest and it is not problematic for traffic flow the way closing Ontario St. is/would be. The Ontario side could still be closed periodically for big events like it has been.

    But the King St. side is the people-friendly side. Closing King would mean that cafe tables and whatnot could spread out into the cobbled street – like Market Street often is. Businesses would benefit. Pedestrians and cyclists would love it. This is the ‘warmer’ side people-wise … with cafes, stores, the Market, buskers, businesses and events like the Blue Festival, Stories in the Square, FebFest etc.

    Then Ontario could still be a thoroughfare to Queen’s, the hospital etc. (think ambulances, police and firetrucks, too) – with periodic closures for things like Beat Beethoven/Pride whatever.

    I work downtown, walk everywhere and only rarely bring a car (3x a year at most). So I am a keen supporter of pedestrian-friendly initiatives!

  67. Mieke Van Geest says:

    I think it would be a great idea to close the area of Ontario St in front of City Hall. Confederation Park is currently too small a green space and gathering space for a city the size of Kingston. More green spaces, with more trees, are always welcome. The challenge will be to find parking spaces for people coming to this core of downtown, to the market, skating, festivals, wandering downtown. Perhaps accompany the change with designated parking areas a bit further out from the core and then have shuttle buses or trams to take people to the central core.

  68. Mallory Sullivan says:

    No, the street is one of the ways the east end leads to KGH. Sometimes when ppl are stressed trying to drive to the hospital they navigate along the waters edge (knowing kgh is on the water) it has helped me more than once.

  69. Joanna Brown says:

    Yes please! I think this is a wonderful idea. Maybe expand the idea to consider making lower Princess Street pedestrian only too?

  70. Nathalie says:

    Dear Mayor,

    First and foremost, please know that I am a fan (of yours), and I am delighted with everything you do for this great city.

    With regard to closing part of Ontario & King Streets, here are my observations:

    …I sincerely believe that you should not close those streets – and if you insist, I would suggest not closing both – It is already interesting having a “taste of it” with King Street closed behind Market Square this winter due to the teeter totter (wonderful idea) … the third crossing indeed will be wonderful way of travel “out / in” to the city, but we have to think of folks travelling to the West end via the downtown i.e. using Ontario or King Street to “get out” of town – with both closed, it will get congested further up…just a thought…

  71. Dianne Groll says:

    No. Are you completely out of your tree? Oh my goodness. When do we get rid of this Mayor? What on EARTH brought this thought up? No, I have absolutely no desire to cut off this road. You already have enough problems with the road going across to the base. Why would yo cut off one of the access points? Oh PLEASE leave the city roads alone, at least until we have a much better idea of how things will work.

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