First phase of new Bernard Avenue set to launch

Bernard Avenue is set to re-open to motorists, who will notice narrower streets, wider sidewalks and less parking.

Having nearly completed the first phase of the $14-million revitalization project on one of Kelowna's main downtown streets, Bernard will re-open for traffic at 6 p.m. Friday. As different as Bernard looks now, said the city's director of design and construction services Bill Berry, it will look spectacular in the coming months.    


"It's going to be a whole different street, for sure," Berry said. "If people will only keep in mind that it's December and the days are grey. It may look a little stark, because we still have some new trees and they haven't filled out yet. All the benches aren't in yet.


"So it's not 100 percent done, but it's done enough to open to people and traffic." 


The first phase of the project was finished on time, Berry said. The project began in late August. The second phase, planned from Abbott to Pandosy streets, is scheduled to start in the spring and finish in June. The look will be similar to that of the first phase, with wider sidewalks, more trees, public art and benches.


The third and final phase of the project, set to begin next fall, will involve streetscaping work between St. Paul and Ellis.


A sticking point of the project is the advent of parallel parking between Richter and St. Paul, which formerly offered angle parking. The new design means that Bernard will have about 60 fewer parking stalls. 


"That was probably the most contentious issue at the outset," Berry said. "People wanted wider sidewalks, but to get that real estate, to get that kind of space, you've got to take it from somewhere. That goes for for parking and businesses didn't want to lose that parking.


"So there's some impact. On the other hand, we're putting in two new parkades. There will be an expansion to the library parkade and a new one at the Memorial."


The entire project is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2014. 


John Sleeper


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