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Downtown Kelowna businesses push for street closure earlier than scheduled

Some downtown businesses are pushing for Kelowna’s City Council to consider shutting down Bernard Avenue earlier than expected.

“It’s about getting the downtown core open, at least for pedestrian-only traffic, as soon as possible. That’s so we can mitigate some of the loss of seating in our restaurants,” said Dan Bronswyk, downtown Kelowna’s Bread Co.’s co-owner. 

The planned shutdown for July 1, 2021, is being discussed amongst Bernard Avenue business owners, as some want the closure to begin sooner to combat indoor dining restrictions.

Bronswyk said he’s all for shutting down Bernard Avenue earlier than scheduled, citing last year’s success as a major driving force.

“Last year we did really good numbers when the street was closed to pedestrians only — it would be really good for us,” said Bronswyk.

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Other Bernard business owners echoed those statements.

“I’ll be for it, earlier is better because of the pandemic and the new rules,” said Shay Selvaraj.

“Last year was very good, and since we have limited space outside (right now) — we only have two tables, the more space will help us.”

“I’m totally for it, last year was awesome,” said Clay Castles, Don’t Look Down Tattoo’s owner. 

“I think they should do it every year, I think it’s really cool for the community to mingle and to be able to get around downtown without that traffic.”

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Kelowna City Councilor Mohini Singh said she’s not opposed to the closure happening sooner than expected, however, she says the issue must be discussed with everyone involved.

“These days we have to be nimble and we have to be ready to move quickly. But these decisions can’t be made on the fly,” Singh told Global News on Saturday.

“We have to sit down and have a discussion with all the stakeholders.”

Singh said she’s heard from some businesses who oppose the street shutdown all together.

“A lot of people believe, the pedestrians will only target the areas where they want to go and will bypass their stores and some feel they will be forgotten in all this.”

City council has not discussed moving the planned Bernard shutdown date yet. 

Singh said she expects the issue to be brought up at the next city council meeting.

Click to play video: Downtown Kelowna merchants upset they were not consulted about road closure

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