Canmore council has backed away from fixing a sinkhole in Three Sisters Mountain Village after it received a legal opinion on the issue.
Last month, administration was in front of council recommending it approve up to $500,000 to remediate the hole along a municipal pathway near Dyrgas Gate.
But concerns over whether paying to fix the problem sets a precedent when there is an argument that responsibility lies with the developer and the province saw the recommendation change.
Instead, council voted in favour of erecting a permanent fence around the sinkhole, which is the result of an air shaft from old mine works, and investigate legal options to pursue TSMV receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers and the province to fix it.
Mayor Ron Casey said a legal opinion received since the matter was before council last month, formed part of the decision.
The mayor said the sinkhole has gone beyond a temporary situation and the question council needs to consider is what precedent it will set.
“This is a potential public hazard on our own infrastructure and whose responsibility is it to fix that?” asked the mayor.
The hole measures approximately 7.5 metres in diameter and is up to five metres deep and opened up last June.
It is the result of an airshaft from Seam No. 4 from the No. 4 mine, which was filled in during the 1940s. The No. 4 mine was in operation from 1937 – 1949 and the air shaft was approximately three metres wide and goes down to a depth of 40 metres.
At the time of subdivision and development, the air shaft itself could not be located and it was felt to be remediated until the sinkhole opened up last year.
Former councillor John Kende spoke out at the beginning of the meeting, questioning repairing the hole.
“If you are going to do as suggested and repair it, it looks like at the best of times we are banking these situations,” Kende said.
He questioned the safety of moving forward with development in TSMV on undermined sites when the developer and the province are refusing to deal with the sinkhole either through the MGA’s undermining regulations or insurance coverage.
“If that is the case we are in dangerous waters,” he said.