Vernon, BC, revitalizes summer pedestrian mall after challenging first year – Okanagan

Vernon, BC is reopening its summer pedestrian mall, but the plan is controversial.

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While some thought last year’s road closure was at times “a tremendous success”, others would describe it as “a total bombshell”.

To make room, one block of Vernon’s Main Street will now be closed to vehicular traffic during July and August.

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Vernon is considering closing the road for the second summer after 2021. The pilot faced challenges

The city and the Downtown Vernon Association have teamed up to close the 2900 block of 30 Avenue in hopes of bringing more vitality to the downtown core.

Restaurant owner James Fradley plans to take advantage of the closure and move tables outside.

“We are excited about the existing music and performing arts schedule [at] midday and evening. I think it’s going to be great for our customers and great for the downtown core,” Fradley said as he worked to reinforce the railing for his sidewalk patio.

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This is the second time a pedestrian plaza has been attempted on this Vernon block. However, last year’s event faced major challenges.

Ahead of the 2021 pilot, BC was hit by a deadly heat dome that prompted many to stay indoors.

This was followed by a shattering wildfire season that generated smoke.

So how last year’s place went depends on who you ask.

“When the weather was bearable and the smoke wasn’t too bad, it was a huge hit,” said Fradley, who owns The Med restaurant.

“Last year’s shutdown gave us no opportunity to persuade ourselves [the plaza] in its full expression, so that we are looking forward to this year. Hopefully the cooler spring means we’ll have a great few days out here on the pitch.”


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Across the street at a Raven Traders pawn shop, however, manager John Harker has a far less rosy opinion of last year’s event.

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“When the street was closed, this block was a ghost town almost every day. In the evenings, when most shops were closed, it picked up a bit,” Harker said.

While restaurants might see an upside, the loss of parking spaces over the past year has had a big impact on its business, Harker said.

“Last year was a total bomb and I don’t expect this year to be much better. Last year they blamed a heat dome, which we often have in the Okanagan, for the outage,” Harker said.


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To accommodate the Okanagan heatwaves, organizers plan to include umbrellas and a fog station this year.

Neither the city nor the Downtown Vernon Association made anyone available for an interview Monday.

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The city has budgeted up to $43,000 for the summer plaza.

The program starts on Thursday together with the official kick-off.

The road closure is expected to last until early September.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8966758/vernon-bc-revives-summer-pedestrian-plaza/ Vernon, BC, revitalizes summer pedestrian mall after challenging first year – Okanagan

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