Oxford’s infamous sinkhole has a new owner.
Since the summer of 2018, the property has set fenced off, and in disrepair, after a large sinkhole appeared.
As the grounds gave, crowds thought it was worth watching, but maybe not worth buying.
“Never did, not in my wildest dreams,” says Mervil Rushton.
Where most saw a money pit, Rushton saw an opportunity; 2.1 hectares of land, available at a price that he felt was a bargain.
“I bid $10,000 and they grabbed it immediately,” said Rushton.
The sinkhole first appeared in mid-July 2018, as a hole the size of a dinner plate, but grew to larger than roughly 30 metres wide by 40 metres long, swallowing up trees and picnic benches, and drawing curious onlookers to the small town of about 1,000 people.
The lakefront property was formerly home to the Oxford and District Lions Club, but it became a liability, forcing them to sell.
“The insurance was void because it was caused by ground movement and we couldn’t afford to keep it,” says Bruce Selkirk of the Oxford Area Lions Club.
The new owner has spent December filling the giant crater with concrete slabs, asphalt and mud.
“It took about 700 or 750 loads,” says Rushton. “We don’t know the exact count, but that’s what it took.”
Instead of moving the building, he plans to move in and is hoping to reopen the park to the public.
“There’s five-and-a-half acres here, a beautiful building, and I want to move into it in the spring or in the summer. The two boys and I are going to move in,” said Rushton.
“We wanted Mervil to have it because he’s local,” explained Selkirk.
Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office has said the property and nearby area is at risk to developing more sinkholes due to the bedrock.
But Rushton says that doesn’t phase him.
“It can happen anytime,” said Rushton. “There’s no guarantee on anything. You don’t know if you’re going to go home and have supper tonight.”
Rushton says he’s still waiting to hear back from his insurer and his lawyer about what will, or will not, be possible.