The latest news from the contractor that runs the Othello Tunnels sounds promising for people looking to get back to the breathtaking outdoor destination.
After not opening at all last year, the popular tunnels may be close to welcoming visitors in 2021.
Holley Harris, park communications co-ordinator for Sea to Sky Park Services, said they are waiting on geological testing no make sure there are no hazards and it is safe for the public to enter.
“We do anticipate opening soon,” she said.
On March 2, 2020 the B.C. Parks website posted a notice that “due to recent rock falls at the tunnels and landslides on the Kettle Valley Railway/Great trail between the community of Hope and Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, sections of the trail have been closed to public access. Ongoing extreme hazards continue to exist in the area.”
An update posted April 6, 2021 asked people to “respect this public safety closure as unstable rock conditions exist within the tunnels at this time.”
Brian McKinney from the Hope, Cascades & Canyons Visitor Centre said the new update from Harris jives with what he’s hearing, and he’s hopeful it does indeed open soon.
Othello Tunnels is annually one of the top-10 most visited BC Parks. On a sunny long weekend, he said there will be 4,500 to 5,500 people in just one day.
“The Othello Tunnels is the top requested topic at our visitor’s centre,” he noted. “If you take away all the car traffic that comes through town and off the Coquihalla Highway in both directions, and you take away the inquiries we’re not getting in person, over the phone, email, whatever — you don’t have to do the calculus to know it’s a huge economic boot in the pants if it stays closed.
“We need it to be open and we need COVID restrictions to be lifted at the end of May or the first week of June.”
Opened May 15, 1986 the 159 hectare park features five tunnels that were built in 1914 to accommodate the now-decommissioned Kettle Valley Railway.