People walk along Bernard Avenue on Tuesday in this street view looking north from the Sails. Bernard Avenue, in the streets category, is one of 35 locations across Canada vying to be named one of this year's Great Places in Canada. Lacombe, Alberta is currently leading the Great Street completion. Voting stays open until September 23. Go to www.GreatPlacesInCanada.ca
Only 10 people have so far voted for Kelowna's main downtown street, recently revitalized in a $14-million project, in a national contest aimed at identifying the most welcoming and distinctive urban environments.
That's far behind one nearby rival, the Penticton Farmer's Market, held every Saturday on several downtown blocks. The popular event in the South Okanagan city has a whopping 1,780 votes.
Even some fairly obscure places, such as Lake Koocanusa in the Kootenays - which is really just a reservoir that straddles the Canada-U.S border - rate higher than Bernard Avenue, currently pulling 56 votes.
The runaway leader in the contest is Riverside Park in Cambridge, Ont., which has 6,278 votes.
But Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray is convinced Bernard Avenue will rocket up the rankings once people become aware of the contest, sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Planners.
"I hope Kelowna residents take this great opportunity to show their pride in their beautiful new Bernard Avenue, and go online to vote," Gray said Tuesday.
"We're working hard to make Bernard a main showpiece for our city, with an emphasis on pedestrian activity, and de-emphasizing the automobile," he said. "Bernard Avenue isn't just a road anymore. It's a destination."
Renovations to Bernard include much wider sidewalks to accommodate more patios, created by the elimination of traffic lanes, street furniture, new trees, and distinctive place-making features like giant wooden and steel poles.
People can still nominate any place for inclusion in the contest, until Sept. 2. Voting at greatplacesincanada.ca then continues until Sept. 23, with the winners announced in November.
Like any online contest, voting seems to be driven largely by how much awareness there is of the competition in a community, particularly small ones where locals may seek the bragging rights they believe come from doing well in the event.
In 2011, Peachland's then-new public walkway along the lakeshore received more than 2,000 votes, finishing fourth overall in preliminary voting. But it was not named as one of the final contenders by planners who used the online voting as a guide to set the shortlist. There's also a People's Choice award, which is based solely on online votes.
Last year, Canada's Greatest Street was said to be Queen Street in Fredericton, N.B., its Greatest Neighborhood was named as Osborne Village in Winnipeg, and its Greatest Public Space was Cape Forchu Lighthouse in Yarmouth, N.S.