The final phase of the $14-million revitalization project on Kelowna’s main downtown street, Bernard Avenue, will get underway on Monday, March 3.
The work will take place on Bernard between Ellis Street and Pandosy Street.
“This Bernard Avenue project has really led the way in the revitalization of our downtown,” said Bill Berry, director of design and construction services.
“We’re starting to see the beginning of a lot of really exciting developments and plans that will make downtown a hub for the community.”
As was the case during the three previous phases of work, during construction it will be business as usual for the restaurants, retail outlets and shops along Bernard Avenue. Walkways and access to businesses will be maintained.
“We’ve had successes as well as challenges in the delivery of this project but in the end hope we have met the expectation of residents and the business community,” said Berry. “I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait to see the finished product.”
Completion of the project was delayed for several months due to the lock-out of Fortis B.C.employees by management during a lengthy labour dispute. Part of he underground services work required on the revitalization project hd to be done by the Fortis workers but they were not available.
The contractor doing the work on the project has made such good time during the first two phases that the city expected to have the entire project wrapped up by now. But when the Fortis labour dispute dragged on, the city split the third and final phase of work on two, completing the first part prior to the Christmas.
The new schedule is actually a return to the original timeframe expected for completion.
The Bernard Avenue improvements will see four lanes narrowed into two lanes and a centre turning lane, expanded outdoor retail and cafe space, wider sidewalks for pedestrians, street furniture, intersection plazas, landscaping and replacement of utilities.
The existing trees along the road were evaluated prior to the start of the project but removal was necessary because of their declining health and the need to improve sidewalk drainage and pedestrian circulation.
New trees—Skyline Honey Locusts—were planted and are more appropriate for urban settings, say the city. A total of 140 new trees will be planted along Bernard Avenue as part of the project.The city says about 70 either have been, or will be removed.
Final paving, finishing work and permanent road markings of the third phase of work—between St. Paul and Ellis streets—will take place this spring with completion of the fourth and final phase scheduled for June.