An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
NOW THAT THE EXPERIMENT with the 4th Avenue “pedestrian plaza” is finished, what did you think?
Did you go there? Did you sit at a table, have something to drink or eat, chat, relax?
I’ll bet you didn’t because very few did. For the most part, it looked like a lonely place.
Compare it to Hot Nite in the City. Once again, thousands strolled down closed-off Victoria Street and the cross streets from 1st to 6th. Why were they there? To do nothing more than look at old cars.
But Hot Nite has become a do-not-miss event for one day every August. The crowds that packed into the downtown core for seven hours on Saturday illustrated the kind of buzz a pedestrian mall needs to make it worthwhile. Tables and planters and occasional street musicians aren’t going to convince more people to shop downtown.
Nonetheless, some valuable lessons were learned that can be taken back to the drawing table.
The big take-away, in my view, was that trying to segregate pedestrians and vehicles in downtown Kamloops isn’t an answer. There just isn’t the year-round activity needed to pull off a pedestrian mall on a daily basis.
What might work, though, is finding a way for pedestrians and vehicles to peacefully co-exist, one that doesn’t rely on anything other than some serious traffic calming and a place for people to take a break during their day. They don’t need to be entertained by paid performers.
I’m thinking of a Kamloops version of the Shaftesbury Monument in London’s Piccadilly Circus, where traffic passes by at a sedate place, and those on foot do little other than take a load off by sitting around the steps at the base of the fountain.
It’s really just a glorified roundabout and it’s simple in concept but it works, and something like it could be done at the intersection of Victoria and 4th or Victoria and 3rd.
And that advice is absolutely free.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.