Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna will be closed to traffic this summer | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna will be closed to traffic this summer

Bernard Avenue will be closed to traffic this summer to allow for safe distancing.

Kelowna city council has voted to close a section of Bernard Avenue to all vehicles this summer.

Council agreed to a staff recommendation today, May 25, to close Bernard Avenue from The Sails sculpture to St. Paul Street from June 29 to Sept. 8.

The city's main downtown street will be turned into a pedestrian mall to help businesses expand their patios and display racks, and get their businesses back on track after being shut down due to COVID-19.

It will also mean a quieter street.

“A nice side benefit of this, on the weekend, people love going down Bernard and just revving their engines as loud as they can on their motorbikes,” councillor Luke Stack said. “I just thought, ‘man, we’ll be able to walk up and down Bernard for the first time and not listen to Harleys trying to deafen us as they impress us with their machoism.’”

Bicycles and electric scooters will be allowed on the six-metre-wide walkway in the middle of the street but not on sidewalks. If there is too much conflict with pedestrians, that may be changed.

“I think there will be so many people walking, I don’t think there will be room for bikes,” councillor Maxine DeHart noted.

Cross streets will be open and there will be five-minute parking spots for food delivery services to pick up orders.

But the addition of more patio space is not limited to downtown.

“Bernard gets a lot of the focus in this report,” councillor Brad Sieben said, noting businesses throughout the city can apply to expand onto public property as well.

“This isn’t just a downtown item. It can benefit everyone in the community.”

Council also agreed to close Abbott Street from Bernard Avenue to Lawrence Avenue and Mill Street.

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