There’s nothing like enjoying a meal under the Okanagan sun in the summer. A downtown vegetarian/vegan-friendly eatery, The Arcadian Kitchen, knew this but thought it would be impossible with limited space and narrow sidewalks.
After obtaining a successful Boulevard Area Use Permit, the restaurant has installed Vernon’s first ever parklet – a sidewalk extension that hoards a metered vehicle space on the road.
“We decided to build a patio because our first summer we were so tourist-based that we noticed customers would really enjoy a place outside,” said co-owner Jessica Hultgren. “I think that it will affect us positively; more people will wander down 31st Street and it will be more exposure for all the businesses on our street. I am hoping that more businesses look into this option, as I think being such a tourist destination in the summer, it would liven up our downtown core and attract more people here.”
The Downtown Vernon Association (DVA), who assisted The Arcadian Kitchen in obtaining the permit, hopes the parklet will help position downtown as a desirable place to visit and ultimately generate economic vitality for area businesses.
“This is the Okanagan Valley. People choose to live and visit here largely because of the warm and sunny weather, and restaurants should capitalize on this by offering outdoor seating,” said DVA events and marketing coordinator Dudley Coulter. “Thanks to the City of Vernon, The Arcadian Kitchen is able to pilot the parklet which we have no doubt will benefit them directly, but also the entire block.”
Coulter also noted there are at least 11 outdoor patios within the downtown core. According to a 2017 UBCO study, parklets can also help in moving away from car-centric urban design to a more eco-friendly and vibrant downtown core.
The newly installed patio will be in place until Oct. 1. After the project, all the parties involved will evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot project in hopes that it will become a regular seasonal occurrence.