Before Vernon Secondary School students will be permitted to tag Suicide Hill, city councillors must approve the road closure and issue a permit.
The idea of reviving the tradition after nearly 40 years first came before City of Vernon councillors after Coun. Brian Quiring passed along an inquiry from a constituent during a meeting May 25. As the COVID-19 pandemic has put a halt to typical graduation celebrations, planning committees, school districts and students have had to get creative to mark the milestone.
Quiring asked staff to come back with a report on the feasibility of closing the road to allow for the event.
In it, city staff recommends the 2400 block of 30th Avenue, a.k.a. Suicide Hill, be closed to traffic not just for the grad event, slated for June 17, but until the paint is removed.
“Administration recommends that the paint be removed by Sept. 4, 2020,” the report to council reads.
The nearly three-month road closure, staff said, will ensure the safety of motorists, as covering large portions of the road in paint creates slippery conditions, which could be hazardous in inclement weather, and the “markings would be unfamiliar to drivers,” the report reads.
Also, the paint would last longer and stay vibrant “without vehicle tires wearing the paint.”
VSS teacher and grad sponsor Kulwinder Smith — who said this is “Plan F” for the grad class of 176 students — provided a report to council outlining the physically-distanced plan and ensures all paints are environmentally friendly and safe for pedestrians, bicycles and vehicles.
“We are looking for something where the grads can come together as a class and be remembered during this atypical time,” Smith wrote.
A road closure was in effect June 4 between 1-8 p.m. in Lumby to allow for the Charles Bloom Secondary School graduating class to tag Cop Hill.
In Vernon, the VSS class of 1981 was the last to paint the hill, Greater Vernon Museum and Archives’ community engagement coordinator Gwyneth Evans said.
“Allegedly the reason the tradition was stopped because the tagging was spreading into adjacent areas, to private walls and the like,” she said. “I also suspect it was deemed too dangerous.”
The Class of ‘82 painted the Vernon Secondary School parking lot instead, Evans said.
If council is prepared to approve the road permit during the June 8 meeting, city operations estimate a $470 cost for installation and removal of signage to close and reopen the road and another $200 for temporary signage.
Administration also suggests city council waive the $75 permit fee.