Summer fun is underway as Kelowna’s downtown core opens up for pedestrians to enjoy the city.
Meet me on Bernard officially kicked off on Wednesday (July 7), welcoming residents and visitors alike and inviting everyone to enjoy local food and drink, live music, art, as well as games.
The project is a collaboration between the City of Kelowna, the Downtown Kelowna Association and Tourism Kelowna to help local restaurants and retailers recover from the COVID-19 downturn.
At the same time, the revamped Bernard closure is a way for people to come out and enjoy outdoor events safely.
Four blocks of Bernard Avenue have been closed off to vehicles, with cross streets Water, Ellis and Pandosy remaining open for transit and emergency vehicles.
Meet me on Bernard runs seven days a week with a variety of events planned throughout each day, including dance, art and fitness programs, as well as performances and public displays from artists.
Each block also offers parklets with games where families can spend time together.
DKA executive director Mark Burley said with the success of the expanded patio program, he’s confident that Meet me on Bernard will be an annual event from now on but that they’ll be savouring this inaugural year.
“We’re only a week into this, so we’ll watch the traffic build and we’ll do surveys as the summer goes with the people downtown,” he said.
“Most of the (DKA) members are thrilled. They have traffic walking by their stores; they have people stopping at their restaurants… all in all, it’s a generally positive thing. We have a lot to be positive about, too, as we enter phase 3 of the (provincial) restart program.”
Burley added that last year, Bernard did not look the way it now does. And as the province continues to open, he added he’s not worried that downtown Kelowna will get too crowded or rowdy.
“We have four blocks here with a lot of room for people to move around not only lengthwise but widthwise. I think we’re going to be ok,” he said.