Update: Sinkhole reveals old well in Parksville alley

34-foot-deep well not found in city’s mapping records

City work crews dispatched to deal with a depression in the asphalt of a downtown Parksville alley were surprised when the ground beneath them opened up Friday, June 9.

What they found was an old well, still shored up by wooden cribbing, that did not appear on any of the city’s mapping records, said Mike Squire, Parksville’s director of operations.

“It came to the city’s attention Friday as a depression in the asphalt,” said Squire. “Our crews responded immediately and did a pre-excavation. They determined quite quickly it was more than a depression.”

As the alley surface began to give way beneath a backhoe, the city’s flush truck was brought in to clear debris. What emerged was a six-foot diametre, 34-foot deep well in the alley between Morison Avenue and Harrison Avenue, directly behind Bodyworks Fitness for Women and Tanning Salon.

“The city has no record of it, so my guess is it’s an old well that was there before the city moved to its water system,” said Deb Tardiff, communications director for the city.

Squire suggested the wood covering over the well gradually rotted away, allowing the road surface above to began sagging into the hole. The first order of business for city crews, he said, was securing crew and site safety. Then the well was filled with 16 cubic metres of concrete admixture and covered with steel plates of the type used to bridge roads cut by ditch-digging. Multiple cones were placed on the panels to alert pedestrians and drivers of the hazard over the weekend while the concrete cured.

Squire said an asphalt patch would be placed sometime on Monday, June 12.

The, he said, engineering staff would commence a review of the city’s historical records.

“This was nothing we had any information on,” he said. “It could have been a well dug by one of the original settlers here, or something in a farmer’s field. We’ll be looking through old, historical records to see if there are any other wells done that we might have to address.”