Oxford sinkhole will likely expand, more sinkholes may form: report
A new report has found that a massive sinkhole that forced the closure of a park in Oxford, N.S., last summer will likely continue to expand.
The sinkhole first appeared at the Oxford Lions Park last August as a hole the size of a dinner plate.
A year later, it has grown to be roughly 30 metres wide by 40 metres long, swallowing up trees and picnic benches and drawing curious onlookers to the small town of about 1,000.
A final report on geophysical and geotechnical testing was submitted to the town and the results were released on Thursday.
According to the report, the sinkhole will likely continue to grow, and other sinkholes may develop nearby, making the property “significantly unstable.”
"The ground is normally unstable in a variety of areas," said Rachel Jones, Oxford's chief administrative officer.
The sinkhole is dormant now. But at times last summer the hole was losing 13 feet a day.
At that rate, calculations anticipated within weeks it would expand to the main roadway.
Now the concern has shifted to the potential of new sinkholes developing in the surrounding area.
"There is a stretch of Karst topography, which means that there's a lot of depressions, sinkholes and this type of bedrock and it does extend through the Trans-Canada highway," Jones said.
The unstable ground has been nothing but bad news for the Lions Club. As a result, the Lions Club has said that the property will be permanently off-limits for public use.
“The Town of Oxford is ready and willing to work with the Lions Club to facilitate moving forward, considering space and areas that may work to the benefit of the community,” said Deputy Mayor Rick Draper in a statement.
Moving forward, the town will develop a plan to monitor the sinkhole and nearby Trans-Canada Highway. Local businesses have been asked to come up with contingency plans, should more sinkholes develop, or if something happens to the highway.
"The Lions Club has made the decision to close the park indefinitely. See what we can do about relocating," said Robert Moores, an Oxford Area Lions Club member.
Building from scratch would cost at least a half a million dollars.
While the building itself is currently not at risk, the parking lot has been deemed unsafe in several areas.
"For the Lions Club it's been a real disaster," Moores said. "It's been a gut-blow."
At least $100,000 has already been spent on testing, but there are still unanswered questions and concerns as to what risks lie beneath the ground, and where exactly those may be.
The town is planning a public meeting to inform residents about the results of the report. A date has yet to be set.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Kate Walker.