Johnson: Positive first step in Bernard street revitalization process

Work is progressing quickly on the Bernard Avenue facelift, thanks in large part to the extra-long hours the workers are putting in.

Here we are, almost six weeks into the long-waited facelift of Kelowna’s grand old lady, Bernard Avenue, and things are going remarkably well.

Work is progressing quickly, thanks in large part to the extra-long hours the workers are putting in; work usually starts at 6 a.m. and finishes at midnight, six days a week.

The construction guys are the most polite crew you’d ever want to work with, and the site is impressively clean.

The workmen have been so careful to keep the sidewalks open and accessible that there are still plenty of people out walking in the beautiful sunshine on Bernard.

Yes, it’s true—even though a section of Bernard is closed to cars, the sidewalks are all still open and decorated very beautifully with photos of different downtown personalities.

I swear, the City of Kelowna is going to have to write a manual about how to do this type of work right, so that other cities can follow suit.

Most stores downtown tell me that, although business is slightly quieter than normal, it’s still within range and we’re all optimistic that it will be a great Christmas season. Customers have been great, adapting to using the many new back doors that businesses have created; many are actually commenting that they now prefer using the back doors, as parking is much more plentiful and less expensive on Lawrence Avenue.

They’re happy that they made this discovery!

Things are progressing so well that Ellis Street and Bernard, from Ellis to St. Paul, have been re-opened to traffic again.

During the next few weeks, the curbing for the wide new sidewalks will be poured, and the new look of downtown will begin to take shape.

In November, the lighting, sidewalks and most of the landscaping will be completed in the Richter to St. Paul corridor, which will showcase downtown’s bright new look to everyone. This section is slated to open on Dec. 7, in time for the Christmas festivitie –I can’t wait!

During downtown’s facelift, don’t forget that the DKA and the City of Kelowna are sponsoring the Bernard Avenue Contest.

You can enter by making a minimum $10 purchase at any downtown business, and the prize is a $500 downtown shopping spree. Prize draws are held every two weeks (there have already been two winners) and the next draw is on Oct. 23. For info, go to and click on Bernard Avenue Contest.

The last Small Shop Saturday celebration of the year was held last Saturday. The city generously donated free on-street parking downtown for the day, and the merchants dreamed up lots of fun surprises, sales and activities for customers to enjoy.

Two especially intriguing in-store events were Olive & Elle’s “Fresh Autumn Market” (fresh baked goods, preserves and other Fall goodies for sale in the store) and Blonde’s “Lumberjack Love Party” (a photo booth, special “home brew” and giveaways all day). Don’t miss the start of Small Shop Saturday next year, starting in the spring.

And watch for more fun events in early December to celebrate the “reveal” of the first phase of Bernard Avenue’s facelift.

Jan Johnson has co-owned Tigerlily Fashions downtown for 25 years, and she never ceases to be amazed at the variety of unique businesses and events in the downtown Kelowna area. If you have any information to share with her, please email her at

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