From the number of people roaming the community market Saturday morning, you might never know that the 200-block of Penticton’s Main Street had been closed for three months.
“That was the whole concept behind it, to make it a people place,” said Mayor Andrew Jakubeit, who was there to do the official ribbon cutting re-opening the block to the public. “It’s awesome to be able to open that up.”
Leigh Follestad, president of the Downtown Penticton Association, was glad to see the people crowding through the newly re-opened block.
“Absolutely love to see the people out here, I love to see crowds, I love to see people spending money,” said Follestad. “It’s a great feeling down here. It’s exciting, everyone is happy, everyone is smiling.”
The street now sports one less driving lane, but wider cobblestone sidewalks, allowing both better pedestrian access and businesses along the block to make use of the area in front of their shops. Planners took advantage of the surface revitalization to refurbish some of the underground infrastructure as well.
Follestad praised the work down by the Downtown Revitalization committee in developing the plan for the new streetscape.
“They persevered through some adversity and look at this street. The market vendors are lined up beautifully, the whole road looks great,” said Follestad, who owns the Smart Shopper. “I am very pleased with what it looks like, both as the DPA president and a business owner on the 200 block.”
The project isn’t quite finished — benches and bike racks have yet to be installed — but Jakubeit describes it as one step on the road of making a “great downtown into something truly awesome.”
Ian Chapman said the finishing touches will be done in short order.
“We’ve already started to install some more bike racks. The street furniture is imminent. I can’t say exactly what day, we are at the mercy of the supplier and vagaries of delivery trucks,” said Chapman. “I suspect it will all be complete very soon. Same with some of the tree grates. We got half the order. We had to put some temporary plywood covers over some of the tree wells.”
Chapman had praise for all involved for bringing the project together, from the contractor, Grizzly Excavating, to the Downtown Penticton Association. But he especially singled out the business owners.
“I think more than anything, I am extremely impressed with the patience and the understanding that was demonstrated by all the businesses along the road while we do this really quite disruptive work right in front of their businesses,” said Chapman.
Work on giving the 100-block of Main Street a similar treatment will begin in September.