Officials are growing concerned about new cracks in a parking lot near a Nova Scotia sinkhole, and warn a nearby road could become affected.
The Town of Oxford says cracks have developed about 22 metres from the shoulder of Upper Main Street and 44 metres from the sinkhole, and the origins of the cracks require further investigation.
A news release says due to a lack of subsurface information around the sinkhole and surrounding properties, it is currently not known what risk the cracks pose to “the community, road and local businesses.”
It says as a result, residents should begin considering alternative routes for accessing the Trans-Canada Highway, “should circumstances change.”
First reported July 28 as a small hole about the size of a dinner plate, it was measured Monday at 32.6 metres by 38.7 metres – the same size as it was on Friday.
However, officials say material continues to erode along the margins of the sinkhole, and heavy rain in the forecast for Tuesday into Wednesday means there will likely be more erosion.
The sinkhole has swallowed trees, picnic tables and part of a nearby parking lot at the Oxford and Area Lions Parkland.
The spectacle has been drawing curious onlookers to the small town, located roughly 30 minutes from the New Brunswick border, and has even caused minor car accidents. A Tim Hortons cafe and a gas bar are among businesses across the road from the park.
“Security fencing is expected to be completed later today and security will remain on site for a period of time,” the town said in the release.
“Absolutely no trespassing is allowed and trespassers will be prosecuted under the Protection of Property Act.”
Oxford, a sleepy town of about 1,000 people that calls itself the wild blueberry capital of Canada, also said there would be a public information session at some point, but the details have not yet been determined.
“We expect the meeting to be an educational one from a geological prospective and hope to address a number of residents’ concerns,” a town release said Friday of the meeting.
Provincial geologist Amy Tizzard said last week the wider area is underlaid with gypsum, a soft rock that is prone to the development of fractures, fissures and caves.
“Just to the west of here there are dozens of known sinkholes and they’re either flooded and ponded and vegetated – there’s nothing that shows an active process like this one does,” she said.
Officials had expected to bring in ground-penetrating radar and other technology in a bid to better understand what is happening, but said that “due to the non-compete clause” federal assistance was unavailable.