Vernon considers second summer street closure after 2021 pilot faces challenges – Okanagan
City Council in Vernon, B.C., will discuss this week whether to pursue a second summer street closure trial.
There will likely be plenty to discuss, after the city’s initial attempt to create a downtown pedestrian plaza last summer faced significant challenges.
Like many cities, Vernon has attempted to use outdoor space to encourage vitality during the pandemic in 2021.
COVID-19: Vernon considers street closures to bring vitality to downtown during pandemic
It closed a block of its main street to traffic from July 1 to early September in hopes of creating “a dynamic, usable and welcoming temporary public space for area businesses and community members.”
Proponents of the plan envisioned people dining out and enjoying entertainment.
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However, just before the pilot project began, British Columbia was hit by a deadly heat dome and extreme temperatures caused many people to stay indoors and some businesses to temporarily close or shorten their hours. ‘opening.
This was followed by a harrowing wildfire season in the Vernon area that brought smoky skies and prompted the provincial government to tell tourists to stay away.
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Additionally, the city said, the short notice to businesses of the planned closure, restaurant staffing shortages and changing COVID-19 public health advice also created challenges for the initial pilot.
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The end result was that the closing of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue last year likely fell short of what advocates envisioned.
“Generally, many businesses were positive about the shutdown, but felt that with the short notice of shutdown combined with the heat and smoky skies, they had limited opportunities to use the shutdown for their businesses,” said said a city report.
“One business said the closure was detrimental to their business because their regular customers were unable to park in front of their business and opted to use another business in town instead.”
Kelowna, B.C., “Meet Me on Bernard” street closure ends for another year
Now the city is debating whether it should try the program again.
The city says a survey of downtown businesses in February found “broad support” for another attempt at a trial closure this summer.
On Monday, council is expected to vote on whether to move forward with closing the 2900 block of 30th Avenue from July 1 to September 5.
If the idea is supported, city staff will develop a plan and budget.
Last year, the city budgeted up to $50,000 for the project, and the Downtown Vernon Association and Tourism Vernon also provided thousands of dollars in funding and in-kind support.
Businesses on Bernard Avenue in Kelowna prepare for street closures
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