Neither COVID-19 nor road closures are expected to stop the Knox Mountain Hill Climb in 2021 | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Neither COVID-19 nor road closures are expected to stop the Knox Mountain Hill Climb in 2021

Knox Mountain Hill Climb organizers expect to run their event next May without spectators.
December 09, 2020 - 6:30 PM

Plans are in the works to run a spectator-less Knox Mountain Hill Climb in 2021.

That comes despite the fact that the city is considering keeping the popular road up the mountain permanently closed to vehicular traffic.

“I don’t see it as having an impact in terms of the Knox Mountain Hill Climb,” Bryan Fulton, chief organizer of the Hill Climb told “If they closed the road for public use, it doesn’t imply they wouldn’t maintain the road for service access or emergency vehicles.”

He's been encouraged through his discussions with city staff that they are quite supportive of having the event run next year, as long as COVID-19 safety protocols are in place.

The Hill Climb runs each year on the May long weekend but its 63rd edition was cancelled last year because of COVID-19.

There have been suggestions in the past that the road be closed to vehicles all year round. It’s normally closed to vehicles in the winter because it’s not plowed and during times of high fire risk.

Last spring, as COVID-19 hit and many businesses closed, Knox Mountain became so popular with walkers that the Apex Trail was converted to one way for those going uphill.

READ MORE: Apex Trail at Knox Mountain Park now a one-way

The road remained closed all year and a turnaround was set up in front of the gate at the bottom of the hill.

Kelowna city council, during its provisional budget discussions on Thursday, will review a request by staff for money to “consult on making this closure permanent.”

READ MORE: Work to start next year on Kelowna’s second walkway over Highway 97

There were no details in the budget documents about how the consultations would be done. Fulton had not heard of the proposal.

“We’ve had verbal discussion with the city about operating in 2021,” he said, noting that the plan was to not have any spectators at the event. “That seemed to be an acceptable way of operating within the rules as they were four or five weeks ago when we last had those discussions.”

Since then, there have been more cases of COVID-19 and tighter rules put in place about social gatherings and sports events. Those may change again before the May long weekend next year when the event would normally happen.

That race pits cars and drivers against the clock as they travel 2.2 miles and climb 800 feet through 10 major curves.

The record time was 1:37 minutes set by John Haftner in 2007.

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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