Ground still shifting in Saskatoon neighbourhood

The movement of ground in a Saskatoon neighbourhood close to the river continues and it is affecting more roads, officials said Friday.
The ground continues to shift in Saskatoon's Nutana neighbourhood, Devin Heroux reports. 1:47

The movement of ground in a Saskatoon neighbourhood close to the river continues and it is affecting more roads, officials said Friday.

The slump, described as a slope failure, has caused extensive damage in the Nutana neighbourhood, especially along 11th Street East and Saskatchewan Crescent.

On Friday morning officials said the ground moved another 30 centimetres overnight.

The ground had moved about 1.5 metres on Thursday.

It caused extensive damage to a backyard and a utility pole.

Residents are being told to stay out of back lanes and back yards in the affected area. Barricades have been put in place to limit access.

The city also said Friday that electricity to the area was back on again. It was turned off because of the damage to the utility pole.

However, there are plans to turn off the power on Saturday so that some monitoring equipment can be installed. The city said the power would be out between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday and tentatively 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Sunday. The outage would affect all the homes that were without power in the 200 to 300 block of Saskatchewan Crescent, as well as the homes on the odd address side of 11th Street East.

Natural gas service, however, will remain shut off for many residents. About half of the affected customers, around 250 places, were set to have service restored. 

Water has not been affected.

Mark Gimby has lived in his home in the area, which was built in 1920, for more than ten years.

He said Friday that he is leaving Saskatoon to spend the weekend at a cabin.

"Of course we're concerned," he said of the situation with the ground. "But not too much. We stayed in our house last night."

While city officials offered a place for people to stay on Thursday night, but no one took them up on that.

They are now advising residents to be cautious.

"It's not safe to go touring around the lane in the immediate affected area," Mike Gutek, from the city, said Friday. "We don't think it's wise to be uncareful in your backyard, particularly with things that can fall over."

One expert says nature is likely the driving force behind the slumping of the riverbank.

The Centre for Hydrology at the University of Saskatchewan has been tracking the potential impact of record-high water tables in the province. Scientists at the centre have noted there is more water than ever moving through the ground and that could be a contributing factor to what is happening in Saskatoon.

"Riverbanks naturally fail for lots of reasons," Cherie Westbrook, a professor at the centre explained to CBC News Friday. "The streams cut into the stream bank and the soils destabilize and they slump and that happens naturally."

Westbrook also said that with more water around, soil gets soaked and loses some of its cohesive strength.

"The soils fail," she said. "They can't stick together very well."