Sinkhole in Toronto, Canada
© Steve Somerville/Metroland
A giant sinkhole, the size of a backyard swimming pool, swallowed several trees and a portion of the boulevard at Langstaff Rd. and Fairview Ave. in Richmond Hill.

The hole was created by a water main break the afternoon of Jan. 30, said Diogo Oliveira, the town's manager of water and waste water.

It forced the closure of Langstaff to through traffic for at least 24 hours.

Water main breaks are not uncommon with aging infrastructure, Oliveira said, but this one, which occurred around 1:30 p.m., caused more significant damage than usual.

The hole - six metres by five metres at the surface and almost double the size below ground - damaged the boulevard, swallowed trees on the embankment and will require the relocation of a nearby hydro pole.

There were no injuries, Oliveira said, and residents were allowed to remain in their homes.

While some houses in the area lost water service, electricity and gas service were unaffected.

Operation crews and engineers worked through the night and continued on-site Jan. 31 to ensure the area is secure.

Once safety is assured, work will begin to redirect water to affected homes later in the afternoon, he said.

The entire repair job is expected to take five days.

About 20 per cent of the municipality's water mains (underground pipes that carry water from reservoirs and pumping stations to local streets) are considered old, and the town has an aggressive program to replace them with newer equipment, he said.