Coronavirus: Kelowna council eyes turning Bernard Avenue into a street patio

One of Kelowna’s main strips could be transformed into a big outdoor patio space just in time for the Canada Day long weekend.

City council is considering closing Bernard Avenue to traffic and creating extra pedestrian and patio zones.

Businesses on Bernard Avenue were largely supportive of the idea.

“It just gets people out. It gets people excited,” Jack’s Pizza and Liquor chef Matthew Higginbottom said. “A lot more foot traffic generates a lot more business for us.”

The proposed closure starts on Abbott Street at Lawrence Avenue, stretching around the corner onto Bernard Avenue and down to St. Paul Street.

Cross streets would still remain open, according to a City of Kelowna staff report.

A cross-section of the street shows three-metre wide pedestrian corridors in either direction, while the rest of the road is taken up by patio space.

The sidewalks would remain in their current state, with some patio space and pedestrian areas.

Higginbottom said the extra patio seating space could be crucial to his business’ survival.

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“It will actually allow us to generate enough business so that we can stay profitable and keep our doors open,” he added.

According to the staff report, the city is also considering allowing restaurants and bars to use public lands like plazas and parks for temporary patios where appropriate.

A block off of Bernard Avenue, Krafty Kitchen and Bar’s chef is hoping his restaurant will be allowed to use a nearby empty space.

“If we’re allowed to expand, we’re going to take over as much as this little mezzanine area that we can,” chef Chris Shafton said.

“And I would love our city to go to a little more of a European kind of style of dining,” he added.

Businesses serving liquor will need to put up fences, according to the staff report.

While the city anticipates that the opportunity will largely be focused on bars and restaurants, it’s also hoping that retail stores will put out open-air displays for shoppers to browse.

The city expects to lose nearly $43,000 in parking revenue.

However, it still plans to charge restaurants and bars for the extra patio space.

Staff has suggested reducing fees by half because seating is reduced by half.

That means the projected patio revenues for this year of $70,000 would be about the same as last year.

The plan will go before city council on Monday.

If approved, the closure is expected to last from June 29 to Sept. 8.

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