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Ground penetrating radar tests should uncover Oxford sinkhole’s mysteries

Oxford is hosting a public meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre to update the community on the sinkhole in the Lions Park. The sinkhole has been quiet of late, but erosion and cracks in the parking lot’s pavement are still taking place.
Oxford should soon have a clearer picture of the extent of the sinkhole that formed in the Lions Park in August. Test results from ground penetrating radar should be ready by early next week. - Shaun Whalen Photography

Results should be known as early as next week

OXFORD, N.S. - The full extent of the damage caused by a massive sinkhole in Oxford could be known as early as next week.

Cumberland County’s EMO coordinator Mike Johnson said Thursday that’s when results from a ground penetrating radar sweep of the Lions Park on Tuesday should be ready for analysis.

“Things have been relatively stable the last couple of weeks, other than the fact the water level is rising with the rainfall we’ve been getting,” Johnson said. “There’s been very little activity other than some small pieces of sand falling into the hole and a little bit of undermining in the vegetation area.”

Johnson said not much can be done until the results of the ground penetrating radar tests are known. He has his fingers crossed that the sinkhole that formed in August has reached its peak and that the tests completed Tuesday will show that things are OK underground and work can begin to rehabilitate the sinkhole.

“Our fingers are crossed, and I’d like to be able to say let’s fill it in and be done, but we won’t know until we get the results from the GPR tests back,” Johnson said. “If the GPR tests are inconclusive we’ll have to take a hard look at some of the alternatives including some more geotechnical and seismic work and drilling. We’re hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

It has been more than a month since a small sinkhole in the Lions Park became much larger. For several days, the hole – located about 50 feet from the Lions Community Centre – continued to grow, swallowing trees and undermining a section of the property’s parking lot.

It led the Lions club to move its playground structures from the property and has left it in a dire financial position because its insurance policy does not cover a sinkhole. The club has kicked off a Go Fund Me campaign that as of Thursday has only raised about $2,900 of a goal of $50,000.

“The fact it has slowed down to the point it has is encouraging that maybe it’s coming to an end, but without knowing what’s going on underground we can’t be sure,” he said. “We’re still seeing cracks developing in the parking lot that tell us there’s still some movement going on, but it’s a lot less than it was.”

Johnson is still encouraging motorists to be careful when going by the park, although he said the situation is much better now that it was.

As for who’s paying for the response, Johnson expects it will be a joint effort between the town and the provincial government. If it gets high enough, he would hope the federal government would provide assistance as well.

Cumberland South MLA Tory Rushton said he has talked to Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter on several occasions about the park and he said the province is open to discussing the situation with the town.

“There is a commitment from the minister to help out in any way he can. He’s been very good about this and once the test results come in the discussions will start up again,” Rushton said. “Hopefullly, we’ll get some good news.”

Rushton said neither the town nor the province have heard much from the federal government about helping Oxford.

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

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