The plan is officially in place for a two-month closure to vehicle traffic of a block in Vernon’s downtown core this summer.
Council unanimously supported a staff recommendation to close the 2900 block of 30th Avenue from June 29 to Sept. 6 for the purposes of creating a “pedestrian plaza,” and committed up to $43,000 from reserves for the purchase, installation and removal of picnic tables, game tables and umbrellas.
In a report to council, city economic and tourism development manager John Perrott said staff has been working with the Downtown Vernon Association (DVA) on a closure plan to create and activate the plaza, which will feature active programming, like live music, and passive programming, such as a games area and flexible seating.
Marten Brewing Co. and The Kal – one inside the closure area, the other across the street from it – will receive support from the city in their applications to put additional patio seating adjacent to their buildings during the summer months and into early fall.
The DVA will provide furniture, live music/entertainment, marketing support and a dedicated Plaza Ambassador who will be responsible for the daily set-up, ongoing cleaning and take-down at the end of each day.
A pop-up tent hosted by the ambassador will feature downtown information and misting station where visitors can cool down.
Entertainment will include a DJ at 12 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, as well as on Friday evening, and Thursday evening Downtown Sounds, which will be scheduled performances during the closure period. These will replace the Civic Sounds program held at Spirit Square Thursday nights prior to the pandemic and produced by the DVA.
Opposition to the closure has been expressed by some businesses in the 2900 block, but the DVA said a survey of its members showed support for the plaza over the summer months.
The survey asked member businesses to rate how strongly they support closing the 2900 block of 30th Avenue throughout July and August. 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.
Coun. Kari Gares was absent from the regular meeting Monday, May 30.