Salmon Arm resident Brian Howard proposes to city council on March 16 that Alexander Street be closed to vehicles for part of the year. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)

Resident wants to see Salmon Arm’s Alexander Street closed to vehicles

Closure would be for part of year and would allow restaurants to create outside seating

A Salmon Arm resident would to see in the future more socializing and relaxation on Alexander Street and less vehicle noise and pollution.

Brian Howard came to the city’s March 16 planning meeting to propose that Alexander Street be closed to vehicular traffic between Lakeshore Drive and Hudson Avenue from May 1 to Oct. 15.

He said his objectives are twofold: 1) to create a relaxed block in the city free from vehicle noise and pollution where people can walk safely and socialize and 2) to create a comfortable outdoor sidewalk cafe experience and expand the available space for the three restaurants/cafes on the block.

Howard said he has spent a lot of time travelling in Europe the past four years, visiting beautiful cities. He has found that two features make cities livable – their parks and their pedestrian-only areas or streets.

He addressed parking issues and economic impacts as well as busking, panhandling and the farmers’ market.

Howard said while the block of Alexander would lose 16 to 18 parking spaces, the Ross Street parking lot is only half a block away as is Askew’s parking lot. He said most delivery trucks find it easier to park on Lakeshore and move merchandise on pallets.

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Regarding economic impact, Howard said every pedestrian street he’s been on, regardless of the city, has been the most popular street. He said the three existing restaurants could build a deck area off of the sidewalk and expand their seating while keeping the sidewalk clear. He suggested a few more benches could be added.

Howard proposed that buskers and panhandlers not be allowed, and that the farmers’ market be moved to Alexander once a week. He said he’d also like to see two parking stalls removed on Hudson to allow the Hungry Panda restaurant to also build a deck.

Mayor and council expressed appreciation for Howard’s ideas.

Coun. Tim Lavery suggested that Howard take them to Downtown Salmon Arm, noting that the city has created options for businesses to have seasonal sidewalk seating and also has an active-transportation task force.

Mayor Alan Harrison agreed with Lavery’s suggestion, noting that the organization collects a levy from each downtown business.

“If they came to council and said we recommend this, I would support it.”

Coun. Chad Eliason said the city created options at least seven years ago for seating outside and has researched it a lot.

He said for the idea to be successful, there would have to be games, activities, art displays and more. He said Howard’s idea is great but in the long term it would need someone to promote it.

Howard disagreed that it would need to be an entertainment area but was enthusiastic about talking to Downtown Salmon Arm.
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