Council enthusiastic over expanded patios, closing of Bernard

Expanded patios a go

Closing down Bernard Avenue and expanding patio service has been a long time coming.

"It's actually an idea I've wanted to see tested for a number of years, and now we have the opportunity," said an enthusiastic Coun. Luke Stack.

"I'm 100 per cent on board. I think it's a brilliant idea."

Mayor Colin Basran made similar comments earlier this month when the idea was first floated about the street closure as a way of assisting restaurants, pubs and other retailers, many of whom were forced to close for two months due to COVID-19.

For downtown restaurants and pubs, the opportunity to extend patio service into the street will help to increase capacity lost due to physical distancing and maximum capacities.

Council unanimously approved two measures Monday, the closure of Bernard and the implementation of a multi-jurisdictional task force which will oversee applications from businesses across each urban retail section of the city hoping to create patio space on sidewalks, in parking spaces and even in parks.

The closure of Bernard Avenue won't begin until July 1, giving staff, businesses and the Downtown Kelowna Association the opportunity to fine-tune the logistics.

There will be a cost for the program, however, staff indicate the costs has been pared down. The application fee has been dropped to $100, while the fees associated with a patio will be cut in half, since eating, and drinking establishments will still have to adhere to distancing measures, and will only be allowed to offer half the capacity they normally would.

Fencing will be required to separate businesses serving alcohol with the general public. But, to allay Basran's concerns it could look like a bunch of fenced yards, staff indicated it had secured tasteful, inexpensive fencing for that purpose.

The plan for Bernard will include a six metre wide pedestrian lane down the centre of Bernard, which will also be wide enough for emergency vehicles.

Barriers will separate the pedestrian area with the patio space.

Staff also indicated bicycles and scooters would be restricted to the walking area, and not along the sidewalk.

"I think there is going to have to be some real diligence done in restricting the bicycles and scooters from flying down the (sidewalk)," added Stack.

"I was there on the weekend, and it's an ongoing challenge as people bicycle through the walking pedestrians. My challenge to staff would be to please look at some signage directing people off of the pedestrian sidewalk and onto the road area."

Council has stated the closure of Bernard is a test, but have made no secret that, if it is successful, it's something that could be looked at as a permanent summertime fixture.

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