EDITORIAL – Keep patio extensions, lose the Fourth Avenue mall idea

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

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 opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at

About Mel Rothenburger (9052 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

4 Comments on EDITORIAL – Keep patio extensions, lose the Fourth Avenue mall idea

  1. Jennie Stadnichuk // December 26, 2020 at 6:13 PM // Reply

    Great article Mel, agree with your points – especially on Not closing Fourth Ave: in favour of a so called Pedestrian Mall. Last year’s trial run was a huge annoyance for drivers coming into downtown for appointments or ?shopping. I live in Valleyview so I’d drive west on Lansdowne & need to turn Left on fourth then L again onto Victoria. Guess what? No can do! I must drive an extra two blocks to 2nd Ave to make my Left turn. This was annoying, made me almost late for appts more than once! grrr — skip downtown altogether? That’s the choice many people make when unexpected and silly changes such as this are made.

  2. I hear Mr Christian saying something about blocking off a different street every month, Bad idea!!t

  3. I really would sit on a restaurant patio in December, January, or February with a coffee!

  4. Seems to me that most proposals to “improve” downtown core access involve restrictions on parking or other means of access. Living in Westsyde, I assiduously avoid downtown except for indy’s barber-shop. Not my suitcase, so won’t carry it. P.Graham

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