The Vernon Secondary School Class of 2020 revived an old tradition Wednesday, June 17, 2020, becoming the school’s first graduating class since 1981 to paint Suicide Hill at the east end of 30th Avenue. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)

Vernon’s Suicide Hill set for a scrubbing

VSS Class of 2020 made their mark for the first time in nearly 40 years, now it’s time to clean

Classes have resumed and the Class of 2020’s marks on Suicide Hill are ready for removal.

The City of Vernon closed 30th Street, locally known as Suicide Hill, in June to allow for the students of Vernon Secondary School to make their mark.

Reviving the tradition was the graduating class’ ‘Plan F’ to celebrate the milestone amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But the deal council struck with the school board was it must remove the paint from the roadway ahead of its Sept. 4 reopening.

The roadway was closed until early September to ensure motorists safety, city staff told council June 8. Covering large portions of roadway in spray paint can create slippery conditions and the markings would be unfamiliar to drivers, a report to council read. Plus, staff said, without vehicles on the road, the paint would last longer and stay vibrant.

At the Sept. 28 meeting, Coun. Akbal Mund brought it to his council colleagues attention that the paint is still on the road.

“The plan was to take it off,” he said. “It’s been up there with no concerns. I struggled with closing it but it’s been open for a month and we haven’t heard anything.”

City administration confirmed the school is responsible for the removal of the paint, communications manager Christy Poirier said.

“VSS and city staff have worked together on the matter,” she said. “VSS has decided to have the city’s contractor remove the paint and then the costs will be covered by the school.”

The paint is to come off sometime this week.

The Class of 2020 was the first in nearly 40 years to spray paint Suicide Hill.

Vernon Museum and Archives’ community engagement coordinator Gwyneth Evans said the reason the tradition of painting Suicide Hill was stopped after 1981 was that the spray paint “allegedly” spread to adjacent areas.

“I also suspect it was deemed too dangerous,” she said.

The following year, the grad Class of ‘82 painted the VSS parking lot in lieu, Evans said.

READ MORE: Breast is still best, even during a pandemic, UBC Okanagan research finds

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