BARRIE, ONT. -- Now in its second weekend of the season, officials with the Downtown Barrie Business Association (BIA) say the Open Air Dunlop program is off to a strong start.

The program, which officially launched for its second year on June 12, sees Dunlop Street closed between Mulcaster and the Five Points intersection on Saturdays throughout the summer.

"Our businesses are really just loving seeing the customers come in, smiling faces, happy faces, and you know sales are up," says Kelly McKenna, the executive director of the BIA. "Theyve had their doors closed for months, and last week when we opened up, they said it was some of the best sales they've had in over a year.

One of those business owners is Jill Dyck. For the last 17 years, Dyck has owned Bohemia Barrie, which has seen many iterations over those years, now operating as a coffee shop. After a challenging year, she's welcoming the increase in business.

"I've kept going throughout this whole thing. But it's not the same," Dyck says to CTV News. "Keeping going is not the sort of a celebration. And this is the first celebration that we've really been able to have after this long pandemic."

Dyck admits that she initially wasn't supporting the program when it launched in the summer of 2020. However, she says her opinion has changed.

"I think this is really the right direction to go for downtown Barrie," Dyck says. "It just allows people to relax more and see what's down here and be acquainted with the people that have businesses down here, the little cute places that you wouldn't normally see if you were walking by them."

For more information on the Open Air Dunlop program, you can click here.