Bernard Avenue closed to vehicles this summer
Kelowna's high street will be closed to vehicles from June 29th through to September 8th.
In an effort to support downtown businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, the city is allowing businesses along Bernard Avenue to expand operations into the street and parking spaces.
The street will be closed from St Paul St. to The Sails, around onto Abbott St. and over to Lawrence Ave.
During Monday’s afternoon meeting, Councillor Brad Sieben was pleased to hear cross streets will remain open for vehicular traffic.
“I too have heard some concerns and I think rightfully so. It's the unknown of the access to parking and will it limit people from coming downtown, if they have concerns with that, but I’ll be honest I think the cross streets being open and allowing traffic to flow in a different way is critical,” said Sieben.
Five-minute pick-up areas will remain in place on the off streets to service take-out and delivery services.
City council also approved a Public Space Task Force that will review and approve requests for businesses in other parts of the City to temporarily expand operations into public spaces near them.
Mayor Colin Basran said the pilot will allow businesses throughout the city to thrive this summer.
“I know that there's some apprehension by some business owners in particularly on Bernard Avenue that this might have a detrimental effect to their business. Certainly I understand and hear your concerns but I think when we look at these types of streets in any other community they are thriving and very vibrant and to this point I don't see why Kelowna would be any different in that regard.”
Cyclists will initially be allowed to ride down the centre pedestrian lane until any clear problems arise, said City Property Manager Joanna Adamson.
“The best way we are able to do this is by allowing the sidewalk on either side to remain as, allow the functioning area to remain as is but then start the patio space right where the parking would be and then extend over the 7.5 meters,” says Adamson.
Both new and existing patios will see fees reduced by 50 percent, in acknowledgement that they will be operating at a lower capacity.