Just this morning, a TTC vehicle fell victim to a massive sinkhole the opened up in the city. The car was swallowed by the hole, which is becoming a growing trend in the city. In fact, it was Toronto's fifth sinkhole this month alone.
This morning's incident was caused by a water main break on Commissioners Street in Toronto's Port Lands area. While the car was completely swallowed by the sinkhole, the driver was able to escape unharmed.
While this story was making news today, water main breaks and sinkholes are definitely nothing new for the city. In Toronto this month there have been at least five sinkholes in October alone.
Just last week, on October 23rd another sinkhole had opened up in the intersection between Jarvis Street and Isabella Street. While this particular hole was much smaller than some others in the city, it still forced Toronto police to close a section of Jarvis to prevent anyone or anything from being sucked into it.
Then earlier in the month on October 16th, a section of the road on Eglington, by Mount Pleasant, fell victim to another massive sinkhole. Again, this incident was caused by a water main break, which also resulted in flooding in the area. The road had to be closed completely while it was repaired.
On that same day in North York, another sinkhole formed near a parking garage. Again this one was caused by a water main break and the nearby garage was flooded. Meanwhile, the sinkhole sucked in a car from the road outside but fortunately, the driver was able to escape without injury.
Meanwhile, Toronto residents in the Upper Beaches area are dealing with a small yet still concerning sinkhole that the city hasn't come to fix since it first opened up in August. Now, three months later it is still there and will continue to grow until it is fixed.
The hole reveals a two-meter cavern beneath the ground that is just waiting to collapse. Rather than come to fix it the city has opted to put up pylons. As of the beginning of this month, it still hadn't been repaired but continues to grow.
With all these major sinkholes and even more water main breaks and floods in the past month, there is some cause to worry. Even more so though, people are probably wondering why this seems to be happening so much and what even causes sinkholes in the first place.
To answer that last question a sinkhole is when a cavern opens up below the Earth's surface as the rock in the ground literally dissolves. This happens in most cases when the ground is made up by a fairly water-soluble rock like Limestone, which all of Toronto is sitting on.
When water gets into the ground either through excessive rain or an event like a water main break the rock dissolves. As it dissolves, space opens up below weakening the surface. Eventually, it gets to be so unsupported that the ground collapses which is when the sinkholes open up.
While being built on limestone can make the city somewhat prone to sinkholes, the frequent water main breaks are also to blame. With the city's pipes and plumbing running underground they are susceptible to weather, especially at this time of year.
When the temperature drops or there is frost it can cause the pipes underground to shift and if they shift too much they can burst. The burst leads to flooding which compromises the ground around it which brings us back to sinkholes opening up.
While one expert says the city isn't overly prone to massive sinkholes, the number of recent incidents suggests otherwise and the cold weather coming could lead to even more. Experts do also say that deadly sinkholes, while not unheard of, are rare. So all that being said, sinkholes are a real risk in the city and you should be cautious around them or any flooding.