The City of Kelowna is prepared to take a large financial hit to help small businesses navigate through COVID-19.
A report outlining the planned two-month closure of Bernard Avenue through July and August would mean the loss of more than $42,000 in parking revenue through the loss of 113 parking stalls through the proposed closure area from Lawrence Avenue through to St. Paul Street.
This would be on top of the tens of thousands the city has already lost by suspending on-street pay parking downtown and in the South Pandosy retail area for about two and a half months.
The proposal council is expected to endorse was outlined briefly by Mayor Colin Basran during a virtual news conference Thursday morning and expanded upon in the council agenda.
The closing of Bernard Avenue would allow restaurants, pubs, cafes and retail businesses to expand their business into the street while, at the same time, providing enough space for pedestrians on a portion of the sidewalk or along two walking paths in the middle of the street.
The affected area along Bernard includes 78 food, beverage and retail stores as well as 28 other service-oriented businesses. Currently, 30 food and beverage outlets offer patio service.
The plan being presented would provide about 7.5 metres deep of street level patio space for businesses on the south side of Bernard, and about 2.6 metres deep space for businesses on the north side.
Businesses would be restricted to the width of their property, unless they have permission from their neighbour to utilize their space as well.
Businesses serving liquor will be required to provide fencing demarcating their service area.
For the rest of downtown as well as other urban retail areas, a new task force will be established to wade through requests from other businesses wishing to utilize outdoor public space to expand their selling footprint.
Public lands in play could include sidewalks, plazas, parks, parklets, roads, laneways or parking areas to name a few.
“While staff acknowledge that there will be no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution and that applications will need to be considered on an individual basis, approvals will be consistent with the vision and objectives stated in the existing Consolidated Sidewalk Patio Seating program,” the report states.
“This includes high standards in visual and aesthetic appeal, appropriate consultation with the adjacent businesses/landowners and satisfaction of insurance requirements.”
The city is expected to reduce application fees and, since patios will have a reduced capacity, a corresponding fee reduction is also being proposed.
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