An on­go­ing con­cern

Safety the ut­most pri­or­ity in Ox­ford sink­hole is­sue.

The Amherst News - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAR­RELL COLE AMHERST NEWS dar­rell.cole@amher­st­news.ca Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

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

cen­tre.

“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.”

SHAUN WHALEN PHO­TOG­RA­PHY PHOTO

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.

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