Kelowna's two-month Bernard experiment begins Monday

Bernard to close Monday

The two-month closure of Bernard Avenue to vehicle traffic officially begins Monday morning.

The City of Kelowna will begin the two-day process of closing the street and setting up fencing and barriers as it prepares to expand business patios out onto the street.

The closure affects the area of Bernard from St. Paul to The Sails, and includes the portion of Mill Street adjacent to Kerry Park as well as a small section of Abbott Street from Bernard to Lawrence Avenue.

North-south traffic along Water, Pandosy and Ellis streets will not be affected by the closure.

The city will also maintain temporary accessibility parking stalls and five-minute pick-up stalls on cross streets near Bernard.

Property management manager JoAnne Adamson says 22 businesses along Bernard and Abbott have so far taken advantage of the expanded patio permitting.

“This innovative use of public space will allow businesses to expand customer capacity that is otherwise limited by physical distancing suggestions and will create pedestrian zones that allow people to safely stroll up and down Bernard," says Adamson.

While most of the businesses applying for the expanded patio initiative are restaurants, pubs and cafes, Adamson says two or three are retail stores.

And, as the program rolls out, more businesses are expected to apply.

The city is also looking at animating some of the unused space along Bernard.

"The city is reaching out to local organizations and businesses that have creative ideas about creating a bit of vibrancy or animation on pockets of Bernard.

"If anyone is interested, they can contact the event services department at [email protected]"

The new space will include a pedestrian walkway down the middle of Bernard.

While the city is rolling out the initiative as a way to assist businesses through COVID-19, some on council view this as a trial that could, if successful, be rolled out in future years.

"This is something I am really excited about, as are my council colleagues, because this is something I've wanted to see us try for a number of years," Mayor Colin Basran stated when the program was first unveiled.

"It's actually an idea I've wanted to see tested for a number of years, and now we have the opportunity," added Coun. Luke Stack. "I'm 100 per cent on board. I think it's a brilliant idea."

The closure will last until Sept. 8.

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