The Downtown Vernon Association believes it has a hit on its hands with the 2900 Plaza.
The association said the Plaza, in the 2900 block of 30th Avenue, attracted about 9,000 visitors in 2022 from July 6 to Sept. 3. No Sunday or Monday offerings were programmed during that time.
“Our aim is to stimulate overall downtown engagement and exploration of over 500 mom and pop shops,” the DVA’s report to Vernon council reads. “We will accomplish this by transforming part of Vernon’s main street from a vehicular corridor into an exciting urban, contemporary, pedestrian pathway that will attract visitors from all over the Okanagan to shop, eat and explore downtown Vernon.”
A full-time Plaza attendant was hired and worked 340 hours. There were 64 live music performances (one was cancelled due to heat).
Thursdays were the most popular Plaza days, drawing between 300 and 650 people.
Council was told the DVA conducted a member survey of the 2900 Plaza with the following results:
• 24 (100 per cent) of 2900 Plaza businesses were contacted halfway through the Plaza initiative;
• 20 (83 per cent) businesses responded;
• 17 (71 per cent) businesses heralded the Plaza as a success and would support it again in 2023;
• four (17 per cent) businesses did not reply;
• three (12 per cent) businesses described and experienced some disruption to their business.
For 2023, the DVA would like to see the Plaza activated five days a week, Tuesday to Saturday, with seven live performances per week.
A scheduled soft opening would happen July 5 and the closing date would be Sept. 5 (44 days).
“We would also like to see more engagement with local groups, more bike rides, kids’ story time, (Okanagan) Science Centre experiments, art demonstrations and dance troupes,” said the DVA. “More seating, more shade, more free games/activities…”
The city contributed $43,000 to the Plaza in 2022 along with $9,000 of in-kind regional marketing support from Tourism Vernon.
The DVA contributed $48,000 in 2022.
The association has asked the city for $38,000 in a combo of cash and in-kind donations for 2023.
Council received the DVA report for information.