The Fernie City Council is exploring how temporary changes of use to 2nd Avenue could support business recovery this summer.

Following a discussion of temporary or partial closures staff have developed a design for expanding business spaces into the street on 2nd Avenue between 4th and 7th Streets.

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– Business Expansion or Public Use Area – one side of 2nd Avenue
– Vehicle Traffic – one-way travel on 2nd Avenue
– Pedestrians – can travel on the sidewalks
– Cyclists – can travel in the separated bicycle lane
– Parking – angled parking and loading zones on opposite side of 2nd Avenue from the Business Expansion or Public Use Area

Why is this being considered?
At the May 19 regular meeting of Council, several businesses in the downtown area approached City Council with an idea to close a portion of 2nd Avenue to vehicle traffic and leave it open to only pedestrian, bicycle and other modes of human powered travel.

This is an approach being taken in other resort communities in Canada in an effort to support business recovery from COVID-19. Banff and Canmore have both closed their main downtown streets similar to Fernie’s 2nd Avenue.

By expanding their business area outside, businesses can both accommodate higher numbers of patrons, while also supporting physical distancing recommendations for customers of their businesses, customers waiting in line, and pedestrians or cyclists traveling through the area.

City Council is interested in supporting business recovery and have directed staff to explore options for creating expanded street-use options for businesses, and temporary changes to the configuration of 2nd Avenue to allow for additional business activity.

Staff initially presented options for season-long or weekend closures to allow for business expansion on both sides of 2nd Avenue. Feedback from Fernie Chamber of Commerce members and direct-feedback from independent businesses was that this was not strongly supported.

At the June 8 Committee of the Whole meeting, Council discussed the options and feedback received from businesses who did not receive the initial survey, and directed staff to explore an alternative option of moving to one-way traffic downtown and using angled parking to:

– Retain or increase the overall number of parking spaces downtown
– Create space for safe bicycle travel
– Create dedicated business expansion space

City staff have developed a road-use design for 2nd Avenue that allows for these options and are seeking your feedback to help inform Council on their decision on how to move forward.

How can you help?
Share your comments through the online survey before July 2. Your feedback will be used to help City Staff and City Council consider potential changes to the use of 2nd Avenue this summer. City Council will hear the results of the survey as well as refined recommendations from City Staff at an upcoming meeting of Council.

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