Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue could be closed every summer | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue could be closed every summer

Creating a "Green Street" in two blocks of Bernard Avenue is part of closure plans for next year.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna
November 13, 2020 - 8:00 AM

The closure of Bernard Avenue last summer to allow more seating for restaurants and bars could become a permanent feature, at least for two blocks of it.

A review of the experiment that was launched in response to COVID-19 restrictions on seating in restaurants, will be presented to Kelowna city council on Monday.

It shows that 88 per cent of the merchants on the street said business was the same or better than the summer of 2019 and the same percentage would like to see the street closed again next summer.

But the best results were limited to two blocks nearest Okanagan Lake.

In total, 23 businesses expanded their patios and added 443 seats but 19 of those were in the 200 and 300 blocks of Bernard. The other four were in the 500 block.

“The 2020 pilot program revealed a number of challenges associated with the closure of Bernard Avenue in the 400 and 500 blocks, largely as a result of the limited number of food and beverage establishments which were critical to the program’s success in the 200 and 300 blocks,” the report states.

“While the program was intended to provide space for retail establishments to expand and use the roadway, retailer businesses found it difficult to take advantage of this opportunity due to staffing and the additional expenses associated with protecting their merchandise.”

The proposal that staff is sending to city council is to make the closure of the 200 and 300 blocks of Bernard Avenue permanent each summer.

The closure would extend through the next two blocks on a trial basis next summer by turning it into a “Green Street.”

This is how two blocks of Bernard Avenue could be turned into a
This is how two blocks of Bernard Avenue could be turned into a "Green Street" next summer.
Image Credit: Submitted/City of Kelowna

“The objective would be to design and install physical elements creating an inviting outdoor ‘living room’,” the report states. “Such assets may include: parklets, murals, public art, pianos, bike racks, busking stops, etc. Additionally, the City’s Outdoor Events team would work with various community stakeholders to animate the roadway and provide COVID compliant programming.”

That could include things like table tennis, badminton, chess and checkers along with events like flea markets, music, arts and craft fairs and outdoor movies.

The review also found that pedestrian traffic on Bernard Avenue at Mill Street was up 88 per cent over the previous year and peaked later in the day.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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