‘Slow-motion’ mudslide a concern for Kelowna

The slide, ongoing for two years, appears caused by an unidentified groundwater source says the city

A Kelowna official says it’s a “waiting game” for the city when it comes to what has been described as a slow-motion mudslide threatening a business at the foot of Knox Mountain in the city’s North End.

Stephen Bryans, roadways operations supervisor with the city said Wednesday the waterlogged hillside above Knox Mountain Metals on Bay Avenue is too wet to safely put machinery onto in order to shore up the slope, so all the city can do is wait for the ground to dry and hope that is sooner rather than later.

He said the city does have monitors on the hillside measuring the amount of water seeping into the ground, but so far the source of that groundwater has not been found.

“That is what we‘re looking for,” said Bryans.

He said the city has a geo-technical team monitoring the hillside and working on the problem.

The slow slippage has been occurring for the last two years but a Knox Mountain Metals employee said it has gotten worse in the last eight months, with the slippage area doubling in size.

Cody Turner said at first it was just small chunks of the cliff face falling off. Since then, however, there has been a larger area of slippage but Turner added it moved very slowly.

The business is currently being protected by a wall of metal the company has in place at the edge of its property at the foot of Knox Mountain.

Turner said for now it appears the steel wall is holding the mud back on the other side. But he said a drainage ditch on the outside of the metal wall has already filled up. He added he is not too worried about a massive sudden slide.

“But with a mudslide like that, you never know when it could go,” he said.

Bryans said with the unstable slope and the recent rains the city has experienced compounding the problem, the city is concerned and plans to get machinery onto the hillside as soon as it can safely do so to mitigate the potential for a large slide.

“But right now we just have to wait and see,” he said. “For the city, it’s a waiting game.”

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