Businesses adapt to Bernard Avenue construction with enthusiasm

The energy in the air is palpable as this much-needed project begins.

After 25 years of being in business in downtown Kelowna, I’m so excited to be able to say: “It’s happening. Yes, Bernard Avenue is getting a facelift”

The energy in the air is palpable as this much-needed project begins.

The revitalization has been underway on our block of Bernard (between Richter and Ellis) for just over a week now, and I have to say that I’m very impressed with how the city has bent over backwards to make things work for the downtown businesses.

In an unprecedented move, the city created a dedicated business liaison position now being filled by Kelly Kay for the duration of the work.

Kay will act as the contact person for all downtown stakeholders throughout the construction.

If folks have any problems or questions, Kelly Kay is the go-to person.

She’s so capable and upbeat, you just know she’ll be able to take care of anything.

There’s even a web site for people who want to follow or get info updates on the project, and you can subscribe for updates if you like. Just go to www.kelowna.ca/cityprojects.

The city has also gone to great pains to create an amazing scrim covering—plastic sheeting which covers the construction fencing.

The scrim is bursting with wonderful photos of different downtown personalities, and drawings of how the final version of Bernard will look.

There are peepholes all along the scrim, so that curious eyes can have a peek at the construction action.

The other day, I saw some wide-eyed kids checking out the big trucks through the peepholes as if it were the best show ever.

I’m also very impressed with the businesses downtown handling the revitalization with creativity and optimism.

Many of the Bernard Avenue stores and restaurants have created attractive back doors, so customers can now park behind their businesses and enter from the back.

The great news is that the parking meters on most off-Bernard streets are a steal, at a loonie for two hours. That’s probably the best deal for downtown parking anywhere in Canada.

Something to keep in mind is that the stores and sidewalks along Bernard are still open—it’s only the street that is closed.

It’s amazing how easy it still is to get to your favourite Bernard stores.

The Downtown Kelowna Association has also been a huge asset through the whole process of planning and beginning the construction work.

Flushed with the success of the wildly popular Block Party in August, the DKA is acting as advocates for the downtown businesses and planning events to help keep the downtown active during the renos.

In fact, the association is running a Construction Contest right now which could win you $500 to spend downtown.

For more info on the contest, go to www.downtownkelowna.com and click on Construction Contest link.

Also impressive are our fabulous downtown customers. I’ve heard many pledge to stand by the stores downtown as we make it through the facelift together.

A few customers have even told me that they’ve pledged to do the majority of their shopping downtown for the next year, in order to support the businesses. What a great attitude.

By next summer, you’ll probably barely recognize downtown.

With a large part of the renos done and the new marina being built at the foot of Queensway, Bernard Avenue will be a thing of pure beauty.

So don’t be a stranger while the renewal is happening. Make a point of coming downtown to check out the progress and frequent your favourite local businesses.

One final note: If you’re a quilter or quilt-lover, you won’t want to miss the Orchard Valley Quilters Guild 30th anniversary Quilt Show, titled Flirty Thirties, on Sept. 21, 22 and 23.

The main show will be held at the Laurel Packinghouse and the RCA, with demos, display quilts and a silent auction.

Various downtown shops will also be displaying quilts in their windows from Sept. 18 to 25, so it will be a great time to get out and explore shop windows as well.

For more info on this show, go to www.kelownaquilts.com.

Kelowna Capital News

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