An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WOULD YOU sit outside on a downtown or Tranquille Corridor patio in the middle of December or January sipping a latte or having a sandwich?
City council gave the OK Tuesday to patio extensions for restaurants again next summer and, theoretically at least, they could be used into the winter months. Certainly, the COVID-inspired patios were a hit throughout the warmer months.
This year’s summer sidewalk bypasses were cobbled together with two-by-six lumber that wouldn’t hold up under harsher weather conditions so permanent structures would be build. If you’re picturing yourself with chattering teeth as your coffee turns to ice, be not afraid. Tents and propane heaters are a likely part of any winter patio scenario.
Permanent sidewalk patio extensions would reclaim a bit of turf for pedestrians and add enjoyment to the shopping experience. They’re a great idea.
Which makes the Kamloops Central BIA’s insistence on pursuing a permanent pedestrian mall on Fourth Avenue puzzling. This batty idea was piloted a couple of years ago and proved to be a flop.
The pedestrian mall is a big-city idea. It works in places that have vibrant all-day and all-night, seven-day-a-week street scenes, where there’s a reason to congregate there. Kamloops doesn’t qualify.
Closing off any part of Fourth Avenue to traffic and installing potted plants, benches and tables would do nothing to attract more people downtown to shop. It has every potential to become a dis-used eyesore.
Fortunately, Council turned down a request to do a cost study on the idea due to tight purse strings caused by COVID-19 but it will, no doubt, come up again.
Another KCBIA proposal, to close certain blocks of Victoria Street on a temporary, rotating basis for specific events makes a lot more sense. Limited temporary closures on Victoria Street have already proven a success. Let’s stick with that.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.