Oxford Council Seeks Provincial Help with Sinkhole
The Town of Oxford is moving cautiously in dealing with the sinkhole at the Lions Parkland, as they face costs beyond their means.
The town asked eight to ten firms for proposals, but only three responded, and with ideas that were so varied council could not make any reasonable comparison.
One company quoted $25 thousand to conduct ground penetrating radar (GPR) tests, but with no guarantee the science would produce any results.
Another mapped out a four stage proposal with each step following on results from the one before. That package was priced at over one hundred thousand.
Council was given a third, more economic offer, that came by chance. Underground Consulting of Dartmouth had been in Oxford to do ground penetrating tests for the Oxford Regional Education Centre as part of the investigation of the mortar issues at the school.
While in town, the engineer tested along the sidewalk near the Lions Parkland. He quoted $1,500 to come back and test again. Council agreed it would be an economic way to provide “proof of concept”.
When asked why the other company wanted $25 thousand for the same test, the Chief Administrative Officer, Rachel Jones, said the other company must rent the equipment and have it shipped from Ontario, while the Dartmouth firm owns its own GPR equipment.
The bigger question is who will pay the final bill? The town has no budget nor capacity for such expenses.
Mayor Trish Stewart met with the Minister of Municipal Affairs who invited the town to formally ask for support.
Jones says the province has been supportive and asked the town to submit a detailed proposal outlining all the costs incurred to date, along with the estimated costs to complete the geophysical work and remediation.
Referring to the challenge as “A moving target”, Jones says it is very hard to estimate.
Council agreed to start the process, providing the province with details of the town’s financial position and a detailed ask of the estimated costs.
In the meantime, they will ask Underground Consulting to return to conduct the radar testing.