An ongoing concern
Safety the utmost priority in Oxford sinkhole issue.
Oxford’s Lions Park will never be the same.
“It’s the saddest day in the history of the Oxford Lions Club,” park manager Don Christie said after playground equipment, valued at more than $140,000, was dismantled and moved to a safe location on Aug. 26 because of a growing sinkhole.
“It’s just so sad,” Christie said. For now, the equipment, that was put in place about a decade ago, is sitting on flatbed trucks at a nearby farm and even if the situation stabilizes at the park it’s doubtful it would be put back into the park until next spring at the earliest.
“The surface is basically ruined so we would have to redo that before we ever put the equipment back in place, if we can,” Christie said.
With news students from the eight-year-old Oxford Regional Education Centre will have to start the new school year in Pugwash because of structural concerns, Christie said it’s a sad time for the youth of Oxford.
Never in his wildest dreams did Christie imagine the sinkhole would get as big as it has, although he remains optimistic it will not impact the nearby community
“All we can do now is wait,” he said. “The park is closed and fenced off and is being guarded by security.”
Cumberland EMO is continuing to warn people to stay away from the park that is being monitored by 24-hour security. While people were sneaking past the barricades in the days following the sinkhole’s development, people seem to have gotten the message since security was beefed up.
A geologist with the provincial Energy and Mines Department also warned people to keep their distance from the sinkhole.
“We need to keep people out and keep people safe until the site stabilizes,” regional geologist Amy Tizzard said.
Tizzard said there is no threat to the rest of the community since the gypsum deposit responsible for the sinkhole does not extend into the populated part of town.
“There is a belt around the area of the salt lake that extends west a few kilometres. It’s basically just a sliver of gypsum,” said Tizzard.
Where the sinkhole is located is part of a formation known as the Windsor Group that occurs throughout the province in places like Windsor, Falmouth, Cape
Breton and elsewhere. Gypsum is part of that geological feature and it’s a mineral that’s prone to sinkhole development because it’s a soft rock that can dissolve through either groundwater or surface runoff.
She said there’s no way of knowing what caused this sinkhole, saying it could have been something as simple as a shift in the groundwater table. She doubts heavy rain that hit the area had anything to do with it – considering a small sinkhole had developed there in late July.
Energy and Mines along with EMO and Lands and Forests continue,
as of press time, to monitor this situation.
“We continue to ask for the public’s patience and attention when driving or walking in the area of the entrance to the Lions Club due to increase traffic and safety concerns,” he said. “As of (recently), there remains no risk to infrastructure and people are being kept out of the area by 24hour security. Reassessment will be conducted each morning with a view of risk to the following morning.”
A massive sinkhole recently swallowed a giant portion of the Oxford Lions Park. A small sinkhole grew much bigger on Aug. 20 and continued to grow through the week to the point it exceeded more than 100 feet in diameter.