City working to find out why section of Knox Mountain continues to slowly slip away - InfoNews

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City working to find out why section of Knox Mountain continues to slowly slip away

This trail leading to Knox Mountain Park in Kelowna remains closed because of the slumping slope below.
November 05, 2018 - 11:00 AM

KELOWNA - The fences blocking off the north end of Ethel Street in Kelowna are yellow metal bordered by concrete blocks. Higher up Knox Mountain is an orange snow fence.

For now, people on both sides of the slumping cliff below Royal View Drive continue business as usual and work around the fences while the engineers try to find out why the slope periodically gives away.

“We have enough data now to know what’s going on,” City of Kelowna utility planning manager Rod MacLean told iNFOnews.ca. “But we don’t know the geology underground to the detail that specifically points to the water and where it goes from one point to another.”

This is not the first time the slope has threatened to slump into the metal recycling operation but McLean says it’s been about 15 years since the last event. Some years before that, the city had to buy two or three homes at the top of the slope to keep them from sliding down.

The latest action happened last spring and led to the temporary closure of Knox Mountain Metal. It soon re-opened after the city closed off the north end of Ethel Street, erecting yellow fencing that’s open and closed each workday to allow the business a safer space to load trucks.

“We’re still open,” a woman who answered the phone at Knox Mountain Metal said, but would not comment further, saying they were all too busy loading trucks. Knox Mountain Metal has no webpage but the City of Kelowna business licence lists it as Knox Mountain Metal (1971) Ltd. so it has probably been operating in that location for almost 50 years.

Workers, therefore, are no strangers to runoff water turning the slope into mud.

Fencing blocks off Ethel Street, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, to give Knox Mountain Metals in Kelowna room to work.
Fencing blocks off Ethel Street, Friday, Nov. 2, 2018, to give Knox Mountain Metals in Kelowna room to work.

The city has tested its water pipes in the subdivision above the slope and found nothing leaking. Homes there have runoff issues in the spring, McLean said, but they do not seem to be at risk.

“Anything on hard rock is all right,” he said. “In theory, everything should be tied to rock in some way.”

They know where the water is coming out. Golder and Associates is now conducting studies on where the water is coming from. Some initial results are expected by Christmas.

In the meantime, the orange snow fence will stay firmly in place at the top of the slope, blocking off a dirt path used by cyclists, walkers and joggers.

“We fenced it off because the path is there and the sheers have been coming closer and closeer to that,” McLean said. “It’s going to stay closed.”

The city even hired a security guard for a couple of weeks when the fence first went up, just to make sure it wasn’t stomped down. It’s still in place as trail users have slowly carved new paths up to the sidewalk, then back down to the trail on the other side of the fence.

How long things will stay this way, McLean can’t say.

“The fix is on the way,” he said. ‘We just don’t know what the fix is. If there is a fix.”

While some reports said any major repairs wouldn’t be budgeted before 2020, McLean hopes to get to work sooner.

“The moment someone gives us something, we’ll go right at it,” he said. “We’re learning more and more as we go, knocking more things off the list that could have been causes, now it looks like it’s down to natural causes.”

This is not the only slope with stability problems in hilly Kelowna but at the moment it’s the most serious, McLean said.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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