||Our guest speaker today was Andrew Brunton, the President of the Downtown Kelowna Association. He is a lawyer with the Pushor Mitchell firm and obtained his degrees from Queen's University, Kingston and Osgoode Law School, Toronto. He was called to the Ontario Bar in 2006 and the Kelowna Bar in 2008. The Association is holding their AGM today and his term will be up. He will remain on the board as Past President.
The DKA is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that the Downtown Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a safe and desirable place to conduct business, live, work, play and enjoy through cooperative efforts of its members and all levels of government. Any businesses within the DKA's boundaries are automatically members of the Association. There are currently 441 property owners and 621 businesses and a total membership of 1,112.
What does the Association do?
One of the prime activities is Advocacy with City Hall and other levels of government. They lobby the city for improvements to meet the needs of it's members, residents and visitors and the good news is that the city listens to their proposals and also seeks input from the stakeholders regarding the city's own plans and programs. The DKA downtown plan adopted by the Association includes proposals on the following topics and more:
- Restoring two-way traffic on Leon and Lawrence by 2015
- Changing the city's truck route as an alternative to using Ellis - this is a very complicated issue
- Creation of one or more prominent entrance features to downtown
- Redesign improvements to Kerry Park Plaza to be done along with the City's Bernard Avenue revitalization plan
- The city's parking management study and plans to increase parking rates and build new parkades
The $14 million Bernard Avenue Revitalization plan takes off this fall. It involves reducing the current 4 lanes to one lane each way plus a central turning lane which will allow for wider sidewalks and increased space for the street cafes. The construction, of course, will entail short term pain for long term benefits to the downtown core. Construction will be spaced out with a goal of minimizing the effects on the summer traffic and business. There will be upgrades to underground utilities (water and sewer) along with beautification elements and street scaping.
"Shop Bernard - It's Happening!" is the marketing and communication campaign slogan for the project to assure everyone that the area is "open for business". This will be promoted with signage and media exposure. There will be a "wrap" around the street construction sites that will be covered with pictures to detract from the construction and messages to encourage residents and visitors to "come on down".
In addition to the advocacy and planning proposals the DKA sponsors the Clean Team that do clean up duties on the streets, greet and welcome visitors to the area, and work the various festivals and events during the summer.
Other activities and plans taking place include the building of the new Yacht Club, expansion of Stuart Park, redesign of Kerry Park and The Sails and the creation of a public pier. You can learn more by going to www.downtownkelowna.com