Come June, there will be more for residents to do Friday evenings in downtown Salmon Arm.
City council unanimously approved a request from Downtown Salmon Arm (DSA) to extend the hours of Alexander Plaza, the open-air pedestrian mall on Alexander between Hudson Avenue and Lakeshore Drive.
Beginning June 18 and ending Sept. 25, 2021, DSA plans to open the plaza on Fridays from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
A letter to council from Jennifer Broadwell with the DSA explained that a survey of downtown members and area residents was carried out in February 2021 to gauge the desire to continue with Alexander Plaza. From 210 participants, 96 per cent were in favour of opening Alexander Plaza on Saturdays to foot traffic only and 84 per cent were in favour of the Friday evening addition.
Coun. Kevin Flynn, council’s rep on the DSA board, said on March 22 that since the time he moved to Salmon Arm in 1996 and was president of the chamber, a focus was trying to figure out how to get people downtown on Fridays. He said the thinking was that nothing was open so nobody comes, or alternatively that nobody comes so nothing is open.
He said based on the survey and the feedback he’s heard from council and the community, he thinks the Friday evening plaza is “an extremely good move.”
Rob Niewenhuizen, the city’s director of engineering and public works, said city workers need to water the flowers on the weekend, but that could be accommodated and is not a big issue. He said he is not concerned with the hours suggested.
“Alexander is a pretty important part of our downtown network and I would hate to see it closed permanently in any way but this does seem to be workable and it’s bringing people downtown.”
Mayor Alan Harrison said he’s excited about the idea and fully supports what Downtown Salmon Arm is trying to do.
In her letter, Broadwell said the plan is to create a safe, inclusive and engaging place for participants, with activities on the street that celebrate Shuswap life, such as live music, plein air art, artisan booths, food and beverage providers, outdoor cinemas, community awareness and others based on available funding.
She said a way-finding route could be set up from the Downtown Farmer’s Market to Alexander and from Alexander to other downtown businesses. Support would also continue for businesses with sidewalk sales, outdoor benches or dining areas.