Kelowna's Bernard Avenue closure will be much livelier this year

Bernard closure more lively

The summer vehicle closure of Bernard Avenue between the 200 and 500 blocks, allowing for larger restaurant patios, is nearly here.

"Meet Me On Bernard" is a program aimed at bringing in more foot traffic and business to the downtown core. The roadway will be closed to traffic on June 28 in advance of fully launching the program by Canada Day, running through to Sept. 6.

City crews will set up barricades to block vehicles, lines will be painted for pedestrians to walk around in an orderly fashion and patios will be pushed out to the streets.

Downtown Kelowna Association executive director Mark Burley says things will look a little bit different this year. In particular, the 400 and 500 blocks — which sat mostly empty last year due to the lack of restaurants — will be much more lively this summer.

“The problem last year was that with COVID restrictions, we couldn’t animate anything, because we couldn’t create events or anything that looked like that in the 400 and 500 blocks until halfway through the summer, and by then, it was too late,” said Burley

A neighbourhood plaza in the 400 block will go up so that people can enjoy things such as dancing and fitness classes, a community square in the 500 block will offer creative and hands-on events, while an art gallery in the 400 block will be on display. Also, starting June 20, the farmers market will be open in Kerry Park every Sunday during the summer. The new events aim to make things more inclusive for everyone, no matter what you’re looking for.

With more interactive events, it is expected that downtown Kelowna will be busier than usual. To combat the rise in people, Burley says parking will be available close by. “There is Chapman Parkade on Lawrence that sits about a third empty all summer long, and it's actually cheaper to park in and only a block away from Bernard.”

Thirty-minute parking zones are being installed on several area streets to allow for services like Skip the Dishes to continue to operate.

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