- BC Games
Kelowna block party celebrates eve of new downtown
Thousands of residents and visitors walked on the pavement of what will soon be known as the old Bernard Avenue Saturday.
They were taking part in a celebration that was formerly known as Fusion Festival, which was formerly known as Mardi Gras. The Downtown Kelowna Block Party was a given a fresh name this year, which is probably fitting considering downtown is about to be revitalized as well.
"There was some concern unto whether or not it would be recognized. Clearly, the turnout showed that people understood what we were trying to do (Saturday)," said Dustin Sargent, vice-president of the Downtown Kelowna Association.
"If you looked from one end of Bernard to the other, there was really no thin or windy spots. People packed the streets the whole way down."
Construction on Bernard Avenue will begin later this month and will be completed in three phases: The first will be done in the fall of 2012, the second in the spring of 2013 and the final stage will be completed in the fall of 2013.
The strategy allows Kelowna's main street to be open during the peak months of next year's summer season.
"There's construction happening down here for the first time in many years, a new main street, a new Yacht Club, a new Kerry Park. This is the year that we're going to start seeing some shovels in the ground and some change—I think there's some momentum behind that," said Sargent.
The DKA vice-president admitted that the construction will likely hurt businesses in the short-term; however, will be greatly beneficial down the road.
"We're going to weather the storm together.
"I think everybody in the community is ready for this transformation of the main street. I believe, and hope, the curiosity will keep people coming downtown."
Saturday's Downtown Kelowna Block Party featured three musical stages, performances by Cirque du Soleil, a petting zoo, a bouncy castle, a barbecue and nearly 100 vendor tents.