The Downtown Vernon Association has requested funds from the City of Vernon for the 2900 Plaza, which sees the 2900 block of 30th Avenue shut down to motorized traffic from July to September, replaced with a pedestrian corridor. (Wayne Emde photo)

Downtown Vernon Association looks for 2900 Plaza funds

Closure of 2900 block of 30th Avenue from July to early September planned again in 2023

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.

“By providing a welcoming and dynamic pedestrian plaza, the Downtown Vernon Association (DVA) will endeavour to entice locals, the surrounding community and every tourist to come explore downtown,” wrote the DVA in its report to council.

“The 2900 Plaza offers a wonderful place to relax, enjoy treats, eats and entertainment in a comfortable and safe setting downtown Vernon. We strive to provide a clean and engaging space suitable for families, business people and the community to use five days a week.

“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.”

The association said the 2022 Plaza had more activation and programming, referring to shade for local and visitors’ comfort, games/activities, story time, overall colour and seating.

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…”

After 2023, the DVA said it sees the 2900 Plaza “transitioning into a core competency.”

“However, the DVA cannot do it without the ongoing support of the City of Vernon and Tourism Vernon as partners,” it said.

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.

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@VernonNews
roger@vernonmorningstar.com

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