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Watermain break causes damage to building, sidewalk and street in Orillia's downtown

A watermain break under Mississaga Street left a large hole in the sidewalk in front of Gourmet Station in Orillia's downtown.

A watermain break under Mississaga Street left a large hole in the sidewalk in front of Gourmet Station in Orillia's downtown. SARA ROSS/QMI AGENCY

An undetected watermain break carved a cavern underneath Mississaga Street in Orillia’s downtown, says Andrew Schell, Orillia’s acting director of public works.

“It appears we had a break earlier that was finding its way away, so the water didn’t come to the surface,” Schell said. “We were actually creating that cavern ... under the ground. It went undetected.”

The pipe’s base was washed away, causing additional breaks due to pressure and sag, Schell said.

The 200-millimetre watermain — located under Mississsaga Street at the Andrew Street intersection — had its final break sometime Saturday evening.

“We think the final break that came to surface was the one that went up against the Gourmet (Station),” Schell said.

The final break propelled water directly into the foundation of 42 Mississaga St. W. The sidewalk in front of Gourmet Station collapsed.

“The roadway has been compromised underneath,” Schell said. “(Some portions of asphalt) have no road base underneath it currently.”

Crews worked around the clock until Monday at noon replacing the damaged pipe.

“It was a substantial break,” Schell said. “We had to replace approximately six metres of pipe in which we had a number of breaks.”

Schell doesn’t know when the first break occurred, but doesn’t believe it was long ago.

The city hasn’t pegged a dollar figure on the damage.

“At this time, I cannot even estimate,” Schell said.

The city hopes to repair the damage “as soon as possible,” Schell said.

The foundation of 42 Mississaga St. W. must be repaired before the city can fill in the cavern.

“I’ve asked part of the team I have working on this to be in touch with the property owner to see how fast this is progressing from their end,” Schell said.

Although the incident is isolated to a specific intersection, Mississaga Street is closed to traffic from Andrew to Albert streets while city crews conduct their investigation and repair the break.

“We’re considering this an emergency repair,” Schell said. “It’s our main street. We have redirected bus routes and everything else. We certainly want to get things back safe and sound.”

The family who owns Impression House stood across the road from the scene Sunday watching the shoring work take place.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Joe Frantz.

Impression House, at 44 Mississaga St. W., is right beside Gourmet Station.

“We called the insurance people and we’re just getting things looked after one step at a time,” Carey Frantz said. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to open tomorrow.”

Municipal drinking water remains safe.

Twitter: @Sara_VRoss

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