A COMMON THEME is present in many city and community plans these days, one encouraging and promoting a walkable urban environment.
Downtown Kamloops has a reputation as being a particularly walkable place, with a score of 83/100 (as determined by http://www.walkscore.com). Naturally, dedicating certain streets as pedestrian corridors is a popular idea to improve walkability – but how does a city accomplish such a conversion in a typically vehicle-dominated landscape?
For Downtown Kamloops the answer lies in the 4thAvenue Pedestrian Plaza, a pilot project being implemented by the City of Kamloops and The Kamloops Central Business Improvement Association. From Thursday, July 26 until Sunday, Aug. 12, 4th Avenue will be closed to vehicle traffic from the alley between Lansdowne and Victoria Street to the alley between Seymour and Victoria Street. Victoria Street will remain open to east/west vehicle traffic, and transit modifications can be found on the BCTransit website (www.bctransit.com).
The project is being planned to coincide with several large downtown summer events, including the Merchants Market and the International Buskers Festival during the July 27-29 weekend, and Hot Nite in the City and Ribfest during the Aug. 10-12 weekend. Live entertainment, lighting, seating, and on-street beautification are all part of the plan to make 4th Avenue a pedestrian-friendly paradise where the best part of the summer can be thoroughly enjoyed.
Although this two-week project is temporary, the hope is that a more permanent plaza can be built once feedback has been received from the community. The project would be a progressive step forward in creating an outdoor gathering place for people in the heart of downtown Kamloops.
By placing an emphasis on walkability and pedestrian importance, Kamloops becomes stronger as a city and achieves sustainability goals originally created to motivate projects such as this one. As the City continues to develop the Downtown Plan, initiatives such as the 4thAvenue Pedestrian Plaza are sure to play an influential role in the progression of similar ideas.
The value of pedestrian plazas has been proven in many cities throughout the world, from Vancouver and Calgary to Sydney and Charlottesville. The positive feedback already being received by the community as well as the support garnered from the workshops, launch events, and community open-houses shows that Kamloops is ready to try a similar project scaled to match a city of our size.
Make sure to attend the plaza for yourself throughout the project’s duration and let the CAP Team know what you think.
This article was written by Nathan Bymoen, Customer Care and Patrol (CAP) Team Member. Reach the team at 250-572-3008/3009 or the Customer Care & Info Centre at 250-572-3017. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Facebook, Instagram (Downtownkamloops) and Twitter (@downtownkamloops).