|Bernard Avenue between Pandosy Street and the intersection of Abbott Street and Lawrence Avenue past The Sails sculpture was closed to traffic Monday morning for four months of underground utilities replacement and streetscape and sidewalk improvements.|
A second section of Bernard Avenue has been fenced off to vehicle traffic in a short-term-pain-for-long-term-gain street rip up and improvement project.
On Monday, Kelowna's main downtown street was blocked to traffic from Pandosy Street to just around the corner at The Sails sculpture to the Abbott Street-Lawrence Avenue intersection.
Underground utilities replacement, road reconfiguration, sidewalk widening and repaving will all be done now until June 1.
Sidewalks and merchants remain open along the stretch, and pedestrians and customers are encouraged to continue coming downtown to support the stores, restaurants, cafes, banks and other affected businesses.
"I know it will be better when it's done, but four months is a long time," said Dan Bronswyk, the owner of Bread Co. bakery and cafe at
363 Bernard Ave.
"This morning was quieter in here than usual, and I'm pretty darn sure it's because the street's been closed off and the fencing has gone up."
To encourage people to still make Bread Co. part of their routine, Bronswyk has introduced a "Come and Get Your Free On" promotion for the duration of the revitalization.
Customers who make the little extra effort to dodge the reconstruction will be rewarded with a free regular coffee when they buy any other drink or food item for $2 or more.
"Talking to other business owners from the first phase (when Bernard was closed between Richter and Ellis streets September to December last year), I expect business to be down 25 per cent for the next four months," said Bronswyk.
"I'll work harder, but will bring in less staff and cut back on what we bake because there just won't be the same amount of customers."
Maurice James was at Bread Co. Monday morning waiting for a friend.
"My friend told me the street would be blocked off, so I parked at the museum and walked over here," he said.
"I guess you have to think about it, but if I have to come downtown I will still come downtown."
On the sidewalk in front of the Business Development Bank, Chelsea Hanna and her five-year-old daughter Brooklyn were making their way to the library.
"I didn't know this was happening today," said Hanna.
"We live close, so we're usually on foot so I guess this really doesn't change anything if I need to come downtown. We moved here recently from Vancouver, where they always seem to have something shut down for some reason or another."
At Blenz Coffee at the corner of Bernard Avenue and Water Street the mid-morning Monday business was steady.
"I really haven't seen any difference today from any other," said barista Alexia Berenyi.
"The street and the intersection in front of us is closed to cars, but the sidewalk is open and we have a crosswalk here at Water. But it might get slower if the walkway is ever closed during the construction."
Jessica Reimer and Alix Parisotto were sipping lattes at Blenz as work started outside the window.
"I forgot this was all starting today," said Reimer.
"But I certainly saw it when I came to meet Alix. We're Blenz regulars so we'll still keep coming here."
This second phase of Bernard Avenue improvement will be done for June 1 and then the street will be completely open for the busy summer season.
Phase three work between Pandosy and St. Paul streets will done in the fall and the the entire street will again be open for Christmas.
In the spring of 2014, the final paving of all three phases will be done and the avenue completed.