Get ready, says Mayor Colin Basran, because if international travel restrictions remain in place, Kelowna could be in for a busy summer.
“I think we are going to be the hot spot in the country for visitation if it’s allowed,” said Basran during a Monday (March 15) council meeting, adding the city could be in for “possibly its busiest summer in a while.”
Basran said there’s a lot of pent-up travel demand and people want to get out of their homes. If international borders remain closed and domestic travel remains unrestricted, Basran believes Kelowna will be the destination of choice for many restless Canadians.
“If that’s going to be allowed, I say, ‘Look out.’ It’s going to be a very busy time for the City of Kelowna.”
Basran’s comments came as council endorsed additional programming for the Bernard Avenue pedestrian closure this summer, set to allow pedestrians and businesses to take over the popular downtown street between the Sails and St. Paul Street. This, the mayor said, only adds to the city’s draw this summer.
The ‘Meet Me on Bernard’ program will see live music, art galleries, public art and street games, in addition to the expanded patios and pedestrian/cyclist laneways present in 2020. The new initiatives will be focused on the 400 and 500 blocks of Bernard, where businesses had mixed reactions to the program last year, with hopes it will draw more customers to businesses in the area.
“It’s going to be a great amenity for our locals and visitors when they’re allowed,” said the mayor.
City data shows pedestrian volumes went up 88 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019’s expected counts at the intersection of Bernard Avenue and Mill Street.
The program is set to cost the city around $50,000. The city has applied for a Canada Healthy Community Initiatives grant, which would cover most of the city’s costs.
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