UPDATE: Kelowna is looking at closing Bernard Avenue at the end of June - InfoNews

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UPDATE: Kelowna is looking at closing Bernard Avenue at the end of June

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
May 21, 2020 - 12:16 PM

One of the biggest changes people will see in Kelowna as a result of COVID-19 is having Bernard Avenue closed for the summer so businesses can expand onto the sidewalk and street.

“This is something I’ve wanted us to try for a number of years,” Mayor Colin Basran said during an online news conference today, May 21. “I think this is the perfect opportunity for us to start a trial like this.”

The idea is to close Bernard Avenue from Okanagan Lake to St. Paul Street from June 29 to Sept. 8, only leaving the cross streets open. Abbott Street from Bernard Avenue to Lawrence Avenue and Mill Street will also be closed. This will allow restaurants and other business to follow safe distancing rules and restaurants may be able to expand outdoor space for seating customers.

Patio and sidewalk alignments will remain the same but businesses on the south side of the street will have an additional 7.5 metres of patio space on the street while those on the north will have 2.6 metres. They will be separated by two three-metre walkways along the street, one for northbound pedestrians and one southbound.

This graphic shows how Bernard Avenue will look like when it's closed to vehicles during the summer.
This graphic shows how Bernard Avenue will look like when it's closed to vehicles during the summer.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

There are 106 businesses in the area where the streets will be closed, 41 of which are food and beverage outlets.

There is no mention in the report going to council on whether bicycle traffic will be allowed on Bernard Avenue.

Details of the proposal will be included in city council’s agenda that comes out later today and will be debated by council at its regular meeting on Monday afternoon. Basran said councillors are fully supportive and excited about the proposal.

Businesses that are not on Bernard Avenue can apply to a city task force for permission to, for example, expand their patios into parking spaces on city streets.

City Hall and other city facilities, including the RCMP office, will open Monday but people are encouraged to go into these buildings only when necessary. Property taxes and filing for the Homeowner’s Grant, for example, can now be paid and claimed online.

More nets are being added to tennis and pickleball courts today so they can be more fully used, outdoor basketball courts are opening along with some volleyball courts.

Playgrounds are still closed but the city is hoping to have them opened by June 1, with signage about safe distancing. There is no deadline for the opening of indoor recreation facilities but that is being worked on.

The city is not allowing alcohol to be sold or consumed on beaches as some other cities, such as Penticton, are considering.

Returning to paid street and parkade parking will also be debated at Monday's council meeting. The plan is to start charging for parking again in Zone A downtown (closest to Okanagan Lake) and the Rose Avenue and Abbott Street hospital frontages on June 1 and in other areas on June 15.

 – This story was updated May 21, 2020 at 4:25 p.m. to include additional information from the City of Kelowna.

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