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Federal government says no to Oxford

Oxford’s request for federal assistance in the form of geotechnical equipment to get a look underground near the sinkhole in the Lions Park has been turned down.
Oxford’s request for federal assistance in the form of geotechnical equipment to get a look underground near the sinkhole in the Lions Park has been turned down. - Shaun Whalen Photography

Request denied for equipment to look under sinkhole in Lions Park

OXFORD, N.S. - Plans to get a look underground at what’s driving a sinkhole in Oxford have hit a snag.

A request to the federal government for some geotechnical equipment that would include ground-penetrating radar was denied because it doesn’t comply with its compete clause.

“This is very disappointing to us. It would have been advantageous to us to have this equipment to know what we’re dealing with so we could make better decisions,” Cumberland County’s EMO coordinator Mike Johnson told the Amherst News on Thursday. “At some point in time we’re going to have to have a look underground so we can get some sense of security for the area and what the extent of the hole could be.”

Johnson said it’s essential for EMO and Energy and Mines Nova Scotia to know the extent of the hole and what’s taking place under the park so it would know what the trigger points would be that could lead to a decision to close the road in front of the park, or in a worst-case scenario, the nearby Trans Canada Highway.

The EMO coordinator said there is no indication the hole could impact either the road of the TCH, or even the Lions Community Centre, but until it gets a look underground it can’t make those decisions.

Johnson said Oxford, the province and EMO will look at its options, including the possibility of hiring a private firm to provide the equipment, but he said that could cost thousands of dollars.

He said an attempt will be made to reach out to the federal government to reconsider its decision, but it will also reach out to area engineering firms to see if they can do the work.

“Then the question becomes where are we going to find the funds?” he said.

The EMO coordinator said not knowing what’s going on beneath the park is preventing important decisions from being made. The hole has not grown in size for several days, but it’s still a very unpredictable situation and there’s no way of knowing if something could shift underground and cause the hole to grow again.

“We just don’t know what could happen next,” he said. “As we get into the winter season and the freeze and thaw cycles, we have no idea what could happen. We have cracks in the pavement metres from the hole, but we don’t know what that means? There’s a lot more questions than answers. A geotechnical investigation could answer a lot of those questions.”

For now, the sinkhole will continue to be monitored and measured, but Johnson said it’s not something that can go on forever. A decision will eventually have to be made with the property.

Earlier this week, area geologist Amy Tizzard said that while the hole has stopped increasing in size the property is still a very dangerous place.

As for the Oxford Lions Club, it’s meeting Sept. 10 to consider its options. He said the club does not have the money to repair the property, even if it were declared safe, because it has been informed its insurance policy does not cover subsidence.

Don Christie, who manages the park, said the club is concerned it may never be able to use the park or the community centre again.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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