The results of a Vernon business survey on the potential return of the main street summer block closure showed there is strong support for the idea, even if there’s no consensus on how exactly it should be set up.
The Downtown Vernon Association’s survey asked its member businesses to rate how strongly they support closing the 2900 block of 30th Avenue throughout July and August to create a downtown pedestrian plaza for the second year running.
A total of 57 businesses responded and 24 of them (42 per cent) were strongly in favour. Fifteen businesses (24 per cent) said they strongly disagreed with the proposal, and 10 businesses (9 per cent) were right in the middle.
Council supported the block closure in principle at its April 11 meeting and directed administration to work with the DVA on a closure plan.
Following that decision, council was addressed by a delegation from Raven Traders, a business located on the block in question which opposes the closure.
City staff have connected with the DVA to “better ascertain” its consultation activities with businesses on the topic, and to find out if the association’s board of directors “wished to pursue a closure of all or a part of 30th Avenue again for the summer of 2022.”
Reduced parking was the top concern among survey respondents with 47 per cent saying it will be an issue.
Twenty-eight per cent also said they view attracting people to the plaza as a challenge. Helping to address that concern, the survey asked businesses what they would like to see at the plaza to draw people in.
Nineteen per cent were in favour of bringing a farmer’s market to the downtown space, 17 per cent want live music, and there was marginal support for kids programming and live entertainment other than music. Fifteen per cent said they would like to see all of the options listed in the survey implemented.
The comment section of the survey was a mixed bag, with some businesses saying last year’s plaza was poorly attended due to smoke and heat, others wishing the closure could be extended to more 30th Avenue blocks, and still more suggesting minor changes such as closing the street for five days a week rather than seven.