Kelowna, B.C.’s main street will look different this summer.
On Monday afternoon, city council voted unanimously in favour of a plan to close parts of Bernard Ave. to vehicles.
The aim is to create additional space for patios, out-door retail and foot traffic to help businesses hurt by coronavirus closures.
The road closure is expected to begin on June 29 and cover Bernard Ave. from St. Paul St. to Abbott St. as well as parts of Abbott and Mill Streets.
However, cross streets will remain open to traffic.
The plan calls for a large pedestrian walkway down the center of the closed street which the Downtown Kelowna Association feels will allow ample space for physical distancing and hopefully help patrons feel comfortable returning to the area to patronize businesses.
The city is also setting up a system to allow businesses in other parts of the city to apply to use public spaces in a similar fashion.
The road closure will mean the loss of over a hundred parking spots downtown.
Some, like Dan Bronswyk the owner of Bernard Ave. bakery Bread Co., have questions about what less parking will mean for downtown businesses.
“We already have parking issues so taking away more areas for cars to come downtown is going to be a bit of a problem,” Bronswyk said.
However, he plans to take advantage of the expanded outdoor space with a larger patio.
The Downtown Kelowna Association expects more spaces to be free this summer at a nearby parkade and doesn’t think finding parking nearby will be a problem.
Meanwhile, the mayor is predicting those that are currently worried about the planned road closure will be pleasantly surprised by the results.
“I think when you look at these types of streets in any other community they are thriving and very vibrant,” Colin Basran said.
The street closure is planned to last from June 29 to Sept. 8.