A hole lot of waiting: Edmontonians upset at delays fixing sinkholes

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Edmontonians frustrated by sinkholes
WATCH ABOVE: A couple of longtime sinkholes have Edmontonians asking what's taking so long to address them. Fletcher Kent reports – Jun 14, 2019

A north Edmonton sinkhole has become a bit of an unwelcome landmark for residents of the area.

For most of this year, orange barriers have surrounded the hole which is a little more than a metre in diameter and about half a metre deep.

Those who live in the Cy Becker neighbourhood say the hole is growing. In fact, it has swallowed up one of the large caution barriers erected to cordon the area off.

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Aura Juarez lives a few doors from the hole.

“[It’s] kind of like a landmark now. It’s kind of a running joke and when people visit us we say, ‘Yeah. We’re just past the sinkhole.'”

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Juarez says the sinkhole has been a problem for well over a year. Last year, a small one formed. The city came and fixed it.

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This year, the road failed again and neighbours haven’t heard or seen anything since the barricades went up and they’re getting annoyed. They say a big sinkhole is both unsightly and a safety issue.

“Especially when I just paid my taxes, I was thinking ‘Does it go into fixing the roads in my neighbourhoods?'” said Juarez. “We’re supposed to be the best new community in Edmonton last year so it’s kind of funny.

Other neighbours say they have repeatedly notified the city through 311. Files were opened and then closed with no explanation.

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This isn’t the only outstanding roadway project.

In south Edmonton, a smaller sinkhole has been in the middle of 55 Avenue near 105 Street for about two years. Early on, the city put up a sign in the middle of the road warning drivers about the hole. A no parking sign went up on the curb to ensure vehicles had room to get around the sign.

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“It’s been a nuisance here for years,” said Peter Laszuk.

“My son called in to the city a while back and according to them, they didn’t even know it existed. I don’t know where the miscommunication was but it’s been here for a long time.”

That response frustrates Laszuk. He and his son saw the city signs warning drivers long before Laszuk’s son called to complain about the repair delay.

“It just makes sense to fix those areas that are in need,” said Laszuk. “What can you do. You make a phone call and hope they’ll act on it.”

The city says it only learned about the subsidence on 55 Avenue in November of last year. It asked EPCOR to check if the damage had anything to do with drainage. It didn’t, but then winter prevented them from fixing the hole.

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Repairs are now scheduled to take place within the next couple of weeks. The city did not say why it didn’t know about the hole prior to November of 2018 despite erecting caution and no parking signs around it.

The city points out not all sink holes are its responsibility. Any that are a result of drainage problems must be repaired by EPCOR and that’s a process that takes time.

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A city spokesperson tells Global News that after a notification of an asphalt repair, the city inspects the location and checks to see if any utilities are nearby.

If there are any pipes or telecommunication lines, the utility company must inspect the site to see if their assets need to be repaired. So for any road repairs to take place, any potential cause of the road damage needs to be determined and repaired first.

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The city says crews did repave a pothole in the Cy Becker neighbourhood within a month of receiving the first complaint. However, further repairs will be handled by EPCOR.

However, when contacted by Global News, EPCOR sent a crew to inspect the hole and said the collapse had nothing to do with drainage so it passed the file back to the city. So more than a year after the hole first appeared, it’s still unclear when it will be fixed or even who’s going to fix it.

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