Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - 4:00 PM

Evaluating Duckworth Street Options for Pedestrian Mall

Part of the planning process for the 2021 Downtown Pedestrian Mall included a meeting between City Staff, members of council and representatives from the business community on February 25. Following this meeting, Council and staff received a great deal of feedback from the community, expressing concerns that Duckworth Street, or sections of it, need to be included.

Staff from across the organization have re-evaluated Duckworth Street for possible road closures.

This evaluation below considers five sections of Duckworth Street for closure, and takes into account transportation and traffic flow implications, parking and parking lot access, types of businesses operating in each section, all while ensuring emergency vehicle access.

Please note that this evaluation considers Duckworth Street options in tandem with the road closure on Water Street.

Public Engagement: Background Information

During the Public Engagement for the Pedestrian Mall in 2020, the City collected feedback from downtown businesses, including Water Street and Duckworth Street.

The highlights from ‘What We Heard’ during Public Engagement are available here.

Sections of Duckworth Street included in this evaluation are:

  • New Gower Street to Bates Hill
  • Bates Hill to Cathedral Street
  • Cathedral Street to Prescott Street
  • Prescott Street to Cochrane Street
  • Cochrane Street to Ordnance Street

Staff evaluation notes, images and recommendations for each section are outlined below.

New Gower Street to Bates Hill

This section could see the creation of a small, pedestrianized zone. While closure of this section impacts heavy trucks, there is an alternate detour route available. This section has been identified as a potential area for closure.

Bates Hill to Cathedral Street

In this section access to MetroPark parking garage must be maintained. The only public access to this garage is via Duckworth Street.

McBride’s Hill north bound would need to remain open to essential traffic coming from Water Street for banks, security vehicles and couriers. McBride’s Hill south bound must remain closed due to the Water Street closure for the Pedestrian Mall. Westbound traffic requires access to Bates Hill as an exit, due to McBride’s Hill southbound closure.

A significant issue in this section is that any traffic travelling down McBride’s Hill will not be able to exit on to Water Street, or through Ayre’s Cove, due to the Pedestrian Mall road closure on Water Street.

Another important consideration in this section is to maintain vehicular access to the Courthouse and parking for Judges between Church Hill and Cathedral Street.

There are several traffic and parking concerns that would prevent this section from being safely closed to vehicular traffic and therefore it is not recommended for closure.

Cathedral Street to Prescott Street

This section from Cathedral Street to Prescott Street includes upwards of 20 businesses, with multiple restaurants, retail, and professional offices. It also includes a grassy area which can be utilized for programming.

There are no major traffic or safety concerns with this section of road closure and it has been identified as a potential area for closure.

Prescott Street to Cochrane Street

Closing the section of Duckworth Street from Prescott Street to Cochrane Street presents an issue with access to two private parking lots, which are used after hours and weekends as free public parking.

A road closure in this section would entail security in a residential area, permitting local access only and there are several intersecting side streets requiring traffic control.

A road closure is not recommended in this section.

Cochrane Street to Ordnance Street

As Duckworth Street is a heavy truck route, closure of any portion requires an alternate route. The alternate route must be Water Street - Harbour Drive - Job’s Cove - Water Street - Cochrane Street - Duckworth Street, as Cochrane Street is the only route available for large trucks to bypass any closures.

Consideration by city traffic engineers was also given to an alternate route of Queens Street, however, the turning radius from King’s Road to Military Road at Rawlins Cross poses a concern.

Overall, if both Water Street and Duckworth Street are closed in tandem, the traffic congestion would be immense for all downtown via Harbour Drive.

Also, there are two core Metrobus routes that travel Duckworth Street - Cochrane Street - Water Street, in both directions. There are no other alternatives as Hill o’ Chips and Temperance Street are unusable by the bus.

For reasons stated above, this section is not recommended for closure.


As a result of staff evaluation, the two sections of Duckworth Street identified for potential closure are:

  • New Gower Street to Bates Hill
  • Cathedral Street to Prescott Street

These options are at an estimated additional cost of $167,000 to the Pedestrian Mall budget for 2021.

This matter is being discussed during Committee of the Whole meeting today (Wednesday, March 24).

The virtual meeting and the agenda is available on the City Website: https://stjohns.ca/councilmeetings

View infographic summary of the Duckworth Street evaluation.