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Vernon looks at cost of controversial street closure plan

Vernon restaurants are offering sidewalk tables while COVID-19 restrictions prohibit indoor dining. Megan Turcato / Global News

Businesses on Vernon’s 30 Ave. have expressed mixed opinions about a proposal to temporarily close two blocks of the street to traffic intermittently this summer.

Now a city staff report has been released on the cost of closing the 2900 and 3000 blocks four days a week from mid-May to early September.

Read more: COVID-19: Vernon considering street closure to bring vitality to downtown during the pandemic

It estimates the partial closure, aimed at providing a boost to businesses during the pandemic, would cost the city around $24,000.

Most of the cost comes from loss parking revenue which, the report estimates, would total $18,000.

The remainder is the cost of staff time to install barriers and bag parking meters.

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However, the city report said, some of this work could be outsourced to the Downtown Vernon Association.

Read more: Despite COVID-19 vaccine ramp up, experts say Canada still in for ‘summer of uncertainty’

Currently, COVID-19 restrictions mean that indoor dining at restaurants in B.C. is not allowed.

So some shops and restaurants in the proposed closure area feel the street closure would help their businesses expand outdoor seating or sales opportunities.

However, others, particularly in the 3000 block, are concerned that closing their part of the street would be a blow to business.

Read more: COVID-19: Staff recommend no early closure of Kelowna’s Bernard Avenue

Critics of the proposal are concerned that less parking will make curbside pickup for takeout and retail harder.

The proposal is up for discussion at a Vernon city council meeting on Monday.

Since the current closure proposal is for a May 13 start date, city council is likely to make a decision this week on whether it wants to move forward with the proposal or modify it.

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