What was initially done to take the focus off vehicle traffic on the newly revitalized Brown Road ended up looking just plain odd, according to West Kelowna Mayor Doug Findlater.
The $3.1 million Brown Road streetscape improvement project wrapped up and the road was re-opened last weekend.
One of the unique features of the improved street was the benches, which were purposefully placed to face the sidewalk instead of the road.
“I drove down there on the weekend, and I thought: My God, this is strange,” said Findlater.
“A bunch of them face blank walls. Unless somebody has big plans for murals on private buildings, which I’m certainly not aware of, this is very, very odd.”
According to a press release by Kirsten Jones, communications supervisor for the district, the benches were placed the way they were to take the focus off vehicle traffic.
“The attractive benches are deliberately placed to face the widened pedestrian corridor, providing places for people to sit and take in the new enhanced boulevard,” stated the release.
But Findlater said he, other members of council and several residents aren’t sold on that concept.
“I think most people would rather look across, through traffic, at some of the landscaping, rather than look at a blank wall,” said Findlater.
As of Tuesday, district staff were reviewing the situation with the design consultant, with the plan to turn at least some of the benches around to face the street. Findlater expected those changes could be done within the next week.
Other than the bench issue, West Kelowna’s mayor said he was happy with the improvements done to Brown Road, which included: Roadway improvements and repaving, creation of designated parking areas, sidewalks and curb and gutter installations, the addition of landscaping, irrigation, street furniture and ornamental lampposts, as well as sewer, drainage and water main upgrades.
“Brown Road looks great. It sets the gold standard for downtown revitalization.
“It’s a bit unfortunate this particular item of the benches has taken the focus off the rest of it.”
As for the rest of Westbank Centre revitalization, Findlater said the only way the district can afford to improve its core is one road at a time.
“There is so much to do in so many places and only so much money.
“Glenrosa, Shannon Lake Road, Boucherie Road, Elliott Road: They all need this kind of treatment. We can only get to them one or two projects at a time according to the funds we have.”