Beautifying the space between Bernard and Lawrence

"The hope is you'll start to see this throughout the city and it will be a catalyst for getting lane spaces used," he said.

  • Sat Jun 4th, 2016 9:00am
  • News

Ben Walker

The alley across from the Sails sculpture, that connects Bernard and Leon avenues, isn’t usually the  most compelling space to tread.

Dingy and stinky, it’s been just a place for cars to park and trash to be cast away.

An effort to change that, however, was made this weekend.

Dozens of community volunteers armed with rollers and paint joined an effort to clean up much of the space, so that for the summer of 2016 at least, it will bustling with visitors and livened by everything from music to dining.

“The hope is you’ll start to see this throughout the city and it will be a catalyst for getting lane spaces used,” said Ben Walker, from the City of Kelowna,  who was part of the painting crew on Saturday, but has been doing much of the city work needed to revitalize the lane way this summer.

The other “90 per cent” he said, has been done by volunteers.

Those who were working this weekend were clearly pleased with the results of their labour.

“It’s the same colours as the city of Kelowna logo,” said one Saturday volunteer, in passing, while gesturing to the ground.

Another pointed up, where new industrial style strings of lights had been affixed between the buildings that couch the lane way a few days earlier.

“It looks great at night,” she said.

And, perhaps the element that makes the effort seem most official is a sign affixed to the entry. In hipster font, it welcomes passersby to the Laneway 2016.

Walker said it’s all short-term, but he hopes revitalized lane ways will eventually become permanent.

“This is just a temporary installment, but we want to do what we can to get people jived about the space,” he said.

This weekend wasn’t the first time the lane way has been beautified.  In 2013, during the downtown block party, there was some cheery paint splashed around.

It was a bit of “tactical urbanism,” said Rob Fershau from the BC Society of Landscape Architects, who has also been doing a great deal of work to get the lane way project going.

Other cities big and small have completed similar initiatives, he said, and they’ve done a great deal to liven urban spaces.

The chef and owner of the Salted Brick, Jason Leizert,  came out from behind his counter to see what was happening.

“I think it’s a great idea,” he said, adding that he’d like to see more city-driven efforts to liven the downtown.

While much of the work will be completed by this weekend, Walker said that the lane will have its official debut June 16, and there will be shows and food to lure the community in.