Kelowna Laneway Project excites city council

Councillors love the idea of making a lane off Bernard Avenue a people-friendly, public space.

A city plan to make a downtown laneway more of a people-friendly, public space is right up council’s alley.

The laneway, at the foot of Bernard Avenue, was the subject of a temporary beautification project last year.

Building on that, it was not hard for city staff to convince council Monday to support its new Laneway Project, aimed at not only beautifying the lane to attract people with colourful surroundings, street furniture, temporary public art and live music, but also to make what has, until now, been under-utilized public space into somehting more appealing and useful.

And council loved what they heard.

“It’s a brilliant idea,” enthused Coun. Charlie Hodge, with other councillors chiming in with similar comments.

And even those who were more cautious, like Coun. Gail Given, who said she hoped the lane would not become a new home for vagrants to hangout and panhandle and a magnet for the “less-than-desirable element,” liked the idea.

Coun. Maxine DeHart said anything would be an improvement over the lane as it is now, a home for illegally parked cars and overflowing trash bins.

If successful, the laneway, which connects Bernard Avenue and Lawrence Avenue (but will only have the first half in from Bernard improved) could be a template for other city lanes in the downtown, Rutland and South Pandosy areas.

The lane is currently one of the most pedestrian accessible locations in the city, say city staff, with many using it to walk between Bernard and Lawrence Avenues and farther south to Leon Avenue.

Last year, a group got together to paint the pavement a vivid blue and white design and set out tables and chairs as part of a downtown street festival.