The City of Kelowna is allowing Bernard Avenue restaurants to expand their patio spaces a little earlier than expected — but also a little less, for now.
The province recently extended COVID-19 provincial health orders barring indoor food and alcohol service through May long weekend, prompting pleas from local businesses for the city to bump up the start date of the ‘Meet Me on Bernard’ program. That initiative will see Bernard closed to vehicle traffic between the Sails and St. Paul Street, allowing patios and pedestrians to take over the street throughout the summer.
But the city is remaining firm on the program’s July 1 start date, with staff saying it needs to strike a balance between supporting local businesses while adhering to health guidelines.
Instead of expediting the full street closure, city staff proposed the use of parking stalls and sidewalk furnishing areas directly in front of local establishments be used for expanded patios for now.
“We feel this is a good compromise,” said Chris Babcock, the city’s event development supervisor.
While the change will limit on-street parking, stalls that aren’t utilized for patio expansion will remain available for parking. Staff said the change will have minimal traffic impact for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, meaning the city is able to immediately start accepting applications and setting up infrastructure for the program.
“What we really need to do now is to encourage people to go out and support our businesses as much as they can,” said Coun. Charlie Hodge.
“I encourage my DKA friends to hang in there until July, and hopefully this will make it better until then.”
Council gave its approval to the sidewalk seating program during a Monday, April 26, meeting.
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