Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran addresses media from the front steps of council chambers on March 23. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)

Kelowna council to look at closing Bernard Avenue to pedestrian-only traffic

Mayor Colin Basran made the announcement regarding the city’s reopening process on Thursday

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran said he and his council will look at the closure of Bernard Avenue to pedestrian-only traffic at their next meeting.

On Monday (May 25), council will hear the plan which will have Bernard Avenue closed to vehicles up to St. Paul Street from June 29 through the end of Labour Day long weekend in September.

The intersections at cross streets along Bernard would remain open to through traffic.

“This is something I’ve wanted to see us try for a number of years and this is the perfect opportunity for us to start a trial like this,” said Basran.

“With substantial reductions to normal capacity inside businesses to comply with health orders, making additional public space available, like streets and parking spaces, will help businesses maintain viability and encourage re-employment of staff.”

The mayor said Bernard was chosen as the city has experience closing it intermittently in the past and the Downtown Kelowna Association (DKA) has endorsed the idea.

While Basran said allowing businesses to take over parking spaces is a “financial trade-off” for the city, it’s something it can do to assist the independent business community.

As part of the same report, the city will look at moving back to paid parking in downtown areas.

According to the DKA, that part of the report shows the city’s plans to reinstate paid parking in Zone A areas on June 1, followed by Zone B and Zone C areas on June 15.

The DKA also said from June 1 through to the end of August, the city parking department is proposing to execute a promotion where the first 30 minutes of parking is at no charge when you use the Pay-by-Phone app. The current temporary parking program for curbside pickup is also proposed to continue.

“A more pedestrianized downtown will be an inviting and safe way for us to reengage with our favourite restaurants, pubs, coffee shops, retail shops and professional services again,” Basran said.

Basran also announced the reopening of some public facilities, including city hall which will open its doors on May 25.

While that means residents can go down to pay their property taxes, the mayor encouraged people to continue using online options to do so as the distancing measures at city hall are anticipated to slow down the in-person process.

More outdoor recreation spaces will open as of May 21, including basketball courts, volleyball courts, and extra nets at double-tennis courts and quad-pickleball courts.

“If the net is up courts are open for play,” Basran said.

Playgrounds are also slated to open in the coming weeks if things continue in a positive direction.

Indoor recreation facilities, however, will remain closed, as will the community policing offices at KLO Road and in Rutland.

Other than recreation services, Basran said all city services were maintained since the provincial government called a state of emergency and the city will continue to offer online and by-appointment services after the pandemic.

“We’ve had 220 staff working remotely and our return to work plan will start with some of those staff returning to their workstations over the next few weeks,” said the mayor.

Basran said the second phase of reopening is encouraging but warned that residents “cannot let (their) guard down.”

“How well we perform in this phase will determine if other phases go ahead as planned,” he said.

“Stay safe, take it slow, and let’s move on to the next phase of re-opening together. Even in these difficult times Kelowna remains one of the most desirable places to call home and will continue to be the destination of choice for people all over Canada and the rest of the world.”

Further details about the patio expansion are available here.

READ MORE: Kelowna mayor wants to expand open spaces for restaurants

READ MORE: Kelowna to open some public facilities in phased-in reopening plan

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