Amherstburg council approves plan for Open Air Weekends in 2022

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Open Air Weekends are one step closer to returning to Amherstburg in 2022.

Council has given the green light to a plan to bring back the popular event which sees downtown streets closed over weekend to make way for extended patios and sidewalk sales — the event now needs final approval during budget deliberations.

Councillor Don McArthur says Open Air Weekends benefit the whole town.

"It creates jobs, it puts Amherstburg on the map, it gives us something to celebrate, something to share on social media. As I said before, all those tweets, all those Instagram posts are hooks and calling cards and people are going to come here next summer," he says.

McArthur says initiatives like this are what Amherstburg is known for.

"It's a point of differentiation. Amherstburg, isn't the place where they play chess in the street and they have street Jenga? Yes, that's Amherstburg and if you come here you'll have a great time and if you come here next year, you can stay in a hotel. So we have to look at this all in its totality," he says.

McArthur says some businesses have raised concerns, but the town has made adjustments.

"Absolutely there have been growing pains. We've heard about them. We have tried to accommodate. We've made adjustments. So it's been great. it's getting better like a snowball rolling down a hill. So now is the time to keep investing in it, to make it permanent," he adds.

The town spend just over $84,000 to host the event last year with an estimated $7-million spent in the town.

Administration is asking for $92,000 this time stating the majority of the increase is due to the hike in the minimum wage.

If approved during budget deliberations, the 2022 edition of Open Air Weekends would run from May 21 to Sept. 25.