Kelowna city council adopted the option for implementing the upgrade of Bernard Avenue in three, three month stretches Monday, with the support of the Downtown Kelowna Association.
DKA executive director Peggy Athans, in a letter to the city’s general manager of community sustainability, said the plan that favoured construction during the fall of 2012, the spring of 2013 and the fall of 2013, was the most appropriate of the four options recently presented to area merchants, property owners and the general public at a recent city open house.
“The DKA board of director’s decision to support construction option one was made after weighing the pros and cons of all four options,” said Athans in her letter to Jim Paterson.
“The board believes that construction option one best represents the interests of (all) downtown Kelowna stakeholders due to the fact that it is the least expensive, has the least amount of risk, yet still has minimal impact in the pivotal summer business months.”
Athans added that, of the remaining choices, option three (a nine-month work schedule from September 2012 to June 2013) was strongly considered due to its least impact on Bernard Avenue merchants but felt the added cost for the broader downtown area could create further risk and delay the project.
The city estimates that winter work option would add $6.7 million to the $14 million cost of the project if cover winter work and night work are included. But at the open house, some of those who attended expressed doubt about that figure.
Also at the open house, Mosaic Book’s owner Michael Neil presented a petition with 100 names on it calling on the city to adopt the winter work schedule.
But following the open house, city officials said they felt the greatest support from those who attended was for its “preferred” option, the one the DKA now supports.
The two other options presented by the city at the open house included a one nine-moth summer work schedule in 2013 and one that would see the work done in four, three-months blocks, spring and fall 2012 and spring and fall 2013.
That plan, however, has been taken off the table because the city says it could not be ready in time given it has yet to even start detailed design work.
In her letter to Paterson, Athans said the primary concern expressed by DKA members was the length of the construction period and the impact construction will have on their businesses.
“For this reason, the DKA would request that every effort is made to continue the first phase through the winter months if weather permits and that incentives/penalties are put into effect to encourage the construction company to complete this project as quickly as possible.”
Council at Monday’s meeting discussed the possibility of giving free parking downtown to help off-set the impact of Bernard’s road construction, but made no final decisions.
The revitalization project is aimed at improving the utilities and services below Bernard Avenue, as well as rebuilding the street above ground, including widening the sidewalks and beautifying the streetscape between Richter Street and the Abbott Street.
Merchants on Bernard Avenue have agreed to pay for 25 per cent of the cost of the beautification work. That amount is expected to be about 10 per cent of the total cost of the project.