Kelowna laneway project will be hard on businesses during pandemic: Mayor Basran | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna laneway project will be hard on businesses during pandemic: Mayor Basran

This laneway between Prospera Place and BNA Brewing is the latest downtown Kelowna beautification project.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
April 27, 2021 - 2:00 PM

It’s been five years since new life was officially breathed into a dingy lane off Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna.

It was fenced off to traffic, painted and opened up to small businesses. That was done on a permanent basis in 2016.

READ MORE: Temporary laneway beautification project to become permanent in Kelowna

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Now, a newer version of that project will be tried in Cannery Lane, which separates Prospera Place from BNA Brewing and another building with five small businesses with their main doors facing the lane.

This laneway will remain open to two-way traffic but part of it can be used for patios or parking. Some businesses, particularly BNA, use it for staff parking now, which is technically illegal. That triggered some pushback from Mayor Colin Basran.

“I totally appreciate our rules and I get you can’t park in a lane but, my understanding is that it has been happening and it hasn’t been enforced so, if I’m understanding this correctly, we’re now saying that small businesses like BNA have been hurt by the (COVID) restrictions, we’re taking your parking but if you want it back, now you’ve got to pay for it and we’re going to start enforcing,” he said during yesterday’s, April 26, council meeting.

“I guess I have a problem with that in terms of the timing. We’re in the middle of a pandemic, these businesses are hurting and now we’re saying we’re taking your parking and you’re going to have to pay to get it back.”

The change is being proposed because of the recently built 14-storey Ellis Parc residential tower at its north end which will increase traffic in a laneway where parked vehicles often block through traffic.

City staff told council that more than 267 parking tickets have been issued in the laneway over the past 20 years, there have been 60 complaints made and 20 vehicles towed.

The proposal is to eliminate parking by the five small businesses and allow them to lease the space for things like outdoor patios.

Since the BNA building is set further back and only has one occupant, that part of the lane could be leased either for parking or for patio space, but at an annual cost of $9,000.

The existing parking lines will be removed, driving lane markings painted in and businesses will be consulted about painting the asphalt outside the driving lanes.

Trucks will still be able to park in the driving area and unload, leaving enough room for traffic to get by, staff said.

New parking rules will be enforced in mid-May.

“I recall back to the Bernard laneway discussion and some of the exact same questions that I’m hearing today were part of that discussion – concern about where the garbage bins will go, about trucks getting into businesses,” Coun. Gail Given said. “The exact same conversation took place when that laneway was proposed. And now, as we see it operating, we find it’s a nice addition to our downtown. Cannery Lane offers another unique perspective to bring us special little spaces in our laneways and offers businesses the opportunity to expand their space.”

In the end, Basran supported the project, but reluctantly.

“Kyle Nixon (owner of BNA) is a really creative person, and his wife Carolyn, but how they’re going to take an area typically used for drop offs of product and trash cans and turn that into a patio that they’re going to make money from?” Basran pondered. “I’m not sure. If anyone can do it, it’s those two.”

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