Bernard Avenue in Downtown Kelowna on July 27, 2020. (Aaron Hemens - Black Press Media)

Bernard Avenue in Downtown Kelowna on July 27, 2020. (Aaron Hemens - Black Press Media)

Kelowna council to consider yearly Bernard Avenue closure

The pilot project saw Bernard close to vehicles between July and September this year

A report is going to Kelowna city council next week that could change the way the downtown core looks in the summer on a yearly basis.

After what city staff called a successful pilot project through summer 2020, the city is looking to make the Bernard Avenue road closure an annual event — allowing businesses and pedestrians to again take over Kelowna’s most popular downtown drag.

This past summer, businesses were allowed to expand their patios and operations into the street, allowing for additional seating at a time when indoor seating is restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City staff noted, in a report set to go to council on Monday, Nov. 12, despite the short notice given to businesses for the first go-around between July and September, the overall feedback from the 23 businesses which participated in the patio extension was positive.

“Staff received comment that during the road closure period, the downtown was relatively vibrant, energized and had a positive atmosphere.”

Despite the pandemic, a survey circulated to those businesses showed 88 per cent of them saw financial results that were the same or higher than in 2019. The same percentage indicated a willingness to participate in the program again in future years.

A man and a young boy stopped on their bikes at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Water Street on Monday, June 29. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

A man and a young boy stopped on their bikes at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Water Street on Monday, June 29. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Pedestrians also seemed to love the extra space.

The report noted pedestrian volumes went up 88 per cent compared to 2019’s expected counts at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Mill Street. And, around 10 per cent of that activity was comprised of bikes, skateboards and rollerblades.

Several city staff members engaged in a study through July and August, observing the goings-on to see how the public was using the open space.

Among their findings was the “park-like atmosphere” that encompassed the street, greater utilization of street furniture and the creation of a seamless transition between Bernard Avenue and nearby parks.

According to a Downtown Kelowna Association (DKA) survey put out to its members, businesses on and off Bernard Avenue showed overwhelming support for the closure to happen again.

However, in a letter of support, DKA executive director Mark Burley noted that businesses — particularly in the 400 and 500 blocks of Bernard — felt the city did not do enough consultation prior to the closure.

“This resulted in what is felt was a lack of traffic in these two blocks.”

Consultation with those businesses is necessary prior to committing to close the blocks again in the coming years, the DKA stated.

To remedy this, staff have proposed turning the 400 and 500 blocks of Bernard into a demonstration “Green Street” — a space which would see businesses reap the same expanded-patio benefits as they did this year while adding some additional flair to draw people to the area. That space would consist of parklets, murals, public art, pianos, bike racks and busking stops, and the city’s events team would work to host COVID-compliant programming in the area. The 200 and 300 blocks would remain the same as they did this year.

“Throughout the world, cities and towns are taking their parks to the streets, as a result of greater constraints in urban environments. COVID-19 has accelerated and emphasized the need for streetscapes and laneways to function beyond the requirements of the automobile.”

READ MORE: ‘Lack of intelligence’: Kelowna mayor condemns anti-pandemic vandalism on city hall

READ MORE: Motorcycle noise violations upsetting to Kelowna resident

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com


@michaelrdrguez
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

City of Kelowna

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FILE - In this April 19, 2021, file photo, Keidy Ventura, 17, receives her first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in West New York, N.J. States across the country are dramatically scaling back their COVID-19 vaccine orders as interest in the shots wanes, putting the goal of herd immunity further out of reach. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
5 more deaths, 131 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health over the weekend

Those 18-years and older in high-transmission neighbourhoods can register for the vaccine

Danny Fulton receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Coast Capri Hotel on April 27. The pop-up clinic was hosted by the First Nations Health Authority. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
All adults in Rutland, Summerland now eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Province expands age range to 18+ for vaccinations in ‘high transmission’ areas

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Penticton RCMP search for 2 suspicious men

Police searching the area of Arawana Forest Service Road

Penticton Lions are hoping to send kids and adults with disabilities to Camp Winfield through a 50/50 raffle draw on now. (Submitted)
Penticton’s Lion’s Club helps to send kids to Camp Winfield

Online 50/50 raffle tickets will send kids and adults with disabilities to Camp Winfield

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
UPDATE: Winfield road open following police, coroner investigation

Pelmewash Parkway closure near Highway 97 connection

Kelowna resident Sally Wallick helped rescue a kayaker in distress a week and a half ago. (Sally Wallick/Contributed)
VIDEO: Kelowna woman rescues capsized kayaker in Okanagan Lake

Sally Wallick is asking people to be prepared for the cold water and unpredictable winds

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

RCMP (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
High-risk takedown on Highway 1 following Shuswap shooting

Upon further investigation, the vehicle and its occupants were not associated with the shooting

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

Most Read