Vernon is gearing up to close main street while opening up some downtown business opportunities.
Closure of the 2900 block of 30th Avenue is on tap to start July 1 through Sept. 6.
“It’s an 11-week trial and I anticipate nothing but success,” said Coun. Dalvir Nahal, who has been advocating for this for three years.
“It’s about time we start thinking outside the box, we are starting to see more and more young professionals moving from the coast and this is definitely a selling feature.”
With pubs, restaurants, a yoga studio, ceramic art painting business, art gallery, theatre, coffee shop and more, there are plenty of options for fun to fill the street. Local artist performance space is another potential.
The city will spend up to $50,000, maybe more if needed, to implement the full closure in the single block. And depending on how it goes, the closure could return next year.
“We would learn a significant amount from the closure of one block, both successes and failures,” Downtown Vernon Association secretary James Fradley said.
Fradley, who also owns The Med in that block, helped survey the businesses. Of the 18 businesses in the 2900 block, 13 responded. A majority, 85 per cent, are in full support, 38 partially support the closure while eight per cent prefer the status quo.
“This is just a trial to see how the public responds to it, how the businesses do with it,” Nahal said.
The 3000 block of 30th Avenue was also surveyed on a closure but did not show as much support: 53 per cent in support, 73 per cent preferring status quo until a more developed plan is set up and 20 per cent satisfied with status quo.
“That really highlights the block’s need for a little more consulting,” Fradley said.
During research into how other communities went about closures, the DVA said the closure cost estimates are around $150,000-$200,000. And since it is Vernon infrastructure, the city is on the hook for the costs to truck in barriers and set up the pedestrian-only block.
Nahal can’t see it costing that much, but said it’s a good investment either way.
“It’s not going to cost $150,000 but if it does council is putting its money where its mouth is,” Nahal said.