OXFORD, N.S. – Oxford is negotiating with a company to manage the next step of the geophysical program relating to the community’s three-month-old sinkhole in the Lions Park.
“Because it’s so technical we don’t have the skill set to determine which is the best direction to go,” Oxford CAO Rachel Jones told the Amherst News. “The ground-penetrating radar proof of concept test just didn’t go deep enough into the ground to show us where we need to go.”
It was in August when 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.
While the sinkhole is relatively stable right now, Jones said, the town can’t really do much until it knows the extent of what’s happening underground.
The testing could cost in excess of $100,000 and it’s negotiating with the provincial government for financial assistance.
“We’re using a measured approach in that we’re using the testing we think will give us the biggest picture and then we’ll go from there,” she said. “We’ll use the results to fill in all the gaps.”
Jones said the town needs to know if there are other gaps underground and how close they are to critical infrastructure such as Main Street and whether the current sinkhole is close to another one that could collapse and create a chain affect.
“We want to make sure we can protect important infrastructure on the main street as well as the Lions Club property,” she said. “That’s a huge attribute to the town.”
Jones is hoping the testing will be completed by the end of December with the results known in January. Everything is dependent on provincial funding.
She said the sinkhole is harder to monitor now that there is snow on the ground and temperatures have dropped. She said it’s difficult to determine if any new cracks are from activity with the sinkhole or because of a changing temperatures.
“Right now it’s relatively quiet so we think any changes that happen are weather related,” she said.