Space beneath bear statue gets $40,000 upgrade

Kelowna's bear has served as a climbing apparatus for its visitors who are jumping to the ground beneath and splitting it open.

Kelowna's bear statue is getting a $40

The ground beneath Kelowna’s blue bruin is getting an upgrade pegged at a cost of $40,000.

The waterfront sculpture has been a draw since it was installed in 2010, and the cement pavers beneath are bearing the brunt of  its popularity. It seems that in the years since its debut, the bear has served as a climbing apparatus for some of its visitors who are jumping to the ground beneath, explained city staff.

“We’ve had pavers break, and some are sinking… it’s been an ongoing issue for two years” said Martin Johansen, building services manager for the City of Kelowna.

Although the bear itself has proven to be very sturdy, remaining remarkably undamaged, the base wasn’t designed for the impact of, for example, a  200 pound man dropping from several feet above.

“These two-by-two foot pavers are supported on each corner and there’s an eight-inch void beneath.  So if you jump on the middle of it, it could break and crack and you could fall through,” he said.

“With the new system, we will fill that in with some high density insulation, add some landscape fabric and sand and imbed the pavers in the sand.”

The cost for the project, which includes an upgrade to lighting that has also been compromised by visitors with a destructive bent,  is somewhere in the area of $40,000.

As for dealing with bear abusers, there’s not much more the city can do than it is already doing..

“We have signage and we have security, but we can’t monitor it 24 hours a day,” said Johansen. “There will always be people who take advantage and try to get a photo taken where they shouldn’t be.”

The project should be completed in the next couple of weeks.