The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is working with residents, business owners and their insurers to coordinate plans to access properties in the evacuation zone. Over 40 calls have been completed to set up appointments for access to properties. Six entries are planned for tomorrow with another six planned for Thursday.
“The first visit includes staff from Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services and Building Development Services, who will enter the property in safety gear to monitor and determine if the property is safe to enter. If the property is deemed safe, the owners will be able to enter,” says General Manager of Infrastructure and Engineering Services, Thomas Kelly.
Work continues in the area where the explosion occurred. Structural engineers are assessing the damage to adjacent buildings. Work continues on identifying the pathway mapping for the methane and hydrogen sulphide gas.
Three stationary gas monitors are being installed in the area to enhance public safety. Entegrus staff will be on-site to supply electricity to these units.
A crowd of about 150 residents attended a two-and-a-half-hour meeting at the Talbot Trail Golf Club Wednesday evening for an update on the investigation into the recurring gas leak which forced the evacuation of a two-block area in late August.
The meeting was hosted by the Active Citizens of Wheatley.
Mayor Darrin Canniff, West Kent Councillors Melissa Harrigan and Mark Authier attended the session as well as several key municipal staff.
Jennifer Barton, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry also attended in person.
Barton said the investigation continues but the focus is on three “areas of interest” in the immediate vicinity of the August 26 explosion at 15 Erie Street North. She said public safety remains the paramount consideration. She commended local officials for their cooperation and expressed admiration for the resilience of the Wheatley community.
Mayor Canniff said the face-to-face session was invaluable. “It was important to be able to hear from residents. Our focus continues to be safety, completing the investigation and mitigation so we have the answers and solutions we need, getting people back to their homes and businesses, and ensuring that no one is left behind. We know this situation places a physical, financial and emotional toll on people.”
Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said residents’ concerns about communicating more technical information, security of the evacuation zone, and temporary accessibility to homes and businesses to get records and personal items were all expressed.
“We learned a lot and there were a number of excellent suggestions that we are taking back to the team,” he said. “I’m grateful that we were invited. We appreciate the efforts of the community to work with us. Supporting our business owners and residents who have been evacuated remains a top priority.”
Lauren Anderson, Chair of the Active Citizens group, said the meeting was beneficial.
“I think the community meeting went as well as possible. I definitely saw a shift in how people entered the meeting and how they left the meeting, A little lighter. Seeing everyone together supporting each other in person was very important and necessary for our community,” she said.View the Video of the Meeting
Thomas Kelly's Presentation - available soon
Chatham-Kent officials will provide residents with an update into the investigation of the Wheatley gas situation and an opportunity to ask questions during an in-person session at the Talbot Trail Golf Club Wednesday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m.
The meeting is being hosted by the Active Citizens Of Wheatley. Mayor Darrin Canniff, West Kent Councillors Melissa Harrigan and Mark Authier and Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire will attend the meeting.
Additional Chatham-Kent officials will participate electronically.
Active Citizens’ Chair Lauren Anderson will moderate the session. Those in attendance will have the opportunity to ask questions of municipal officials.
The session will be also available through the Chatham-Kent Facebook page and residents will be able to ask questions through that platform as well.
Seating at the in-person event will be limited to 150 people inside; a sound system will be set up outside to accommodate an additional 80 people. Proof of vaccination will be required for entry and social distancing will be observed.
Attendance for the in-person session will be on a first-come, first-serve basis, with priority seating reserved for residents and businesses from the evacuation zone.
Media is welcome to attend; however, questions from the media will only be taken during a media session to be held immediately following the event.
The golf club is located at 790 Talbot Trail, just east of Wheatley.
More than three dozen Wheatley businesses and non-profit organizations affected by the August 26 explosion and subsequent evacuation of part of the downtown core can now apply for provincial funding to mitigate their financial losses.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced $2 million in business relief funding following a personal visit to Wheatley in September.
Stuart McFadden, Chatham-Kent Director of Economic Development, said the funding application provides aid in two phases. The application will be posted on the Municipal website, Tuesday, November 2nd.
“The first phase is for immediate emergency financial relief and the second is for re-establishment of businesses and relocation if needed,” he said. “We are urging all businesses affected by the explosion to apply.”
Applicants are being asked to return the completed form by email. For those needing assistance, Municipal Economic Development Services staff will be available on-site at the Wheatley Resource Centre/Food Bank location at 108 Talbot Road East.
- Thursday, November 4, 9:00 am – 1:30 pm
- Friday, November 5, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Monday, November 8, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Friday, November 12, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm
- Monday, November 15, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (if required)
Applications will be accepted until November 15, 2021, and will be reviewed immediately. Economic Development Services will notify successful applicants of the amount of funding disbursement.
Once notified of success, a disbursement agreement will be forwarded for signature and when returned, the Municipality will promptly process payment.
An investigation by Golder and Associates has confirmed the location of an abandoned gas well adjacent to the site of the explosion. Any reports indicating we have confirmed this well is the source of the gas leaks is premature, as further analysis needs to be completed before this can be determined. Investigations are still underway on the site.
We have received several requests from people seeking permission to access their homes and businesses that are in the evacuation zone. These requests are being considered. If the Fire Chief and Technical Advisory Group can determine accessing the buildings can be done safely, they will develop a plan to allow property owners limited access. As part of this determination, the Municipality's Chief Building Official and his staff are on site this week to review and determine if buildings can be entered. This work needs to be completed before we can determine if people can safely access their properties.
A reminder to all residents in Wheatley that the site is an active work zone and people should not proceed beyond the barriers.
Residents can subscribe to email updates through our email subscription service or by contacting the Municipality.
Residents requiring emergency housing outside of weekday office hours may call the Homeless Response Line (HRL) at (519) 354-6628.
Residents requesting general information should call (519) 360-1998 or 3-1-1 Monday- Friday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm.
The Village Resource Centre provides supportive services to those impacted by the explosion. For more information please call 226-484-1004 or email email@example.com.
While efforts continue to find the source of a recurring gas emission that caused an August 26 explosion and ongoing evacuation in downtown Wheatley, municipal and provincial officials are also providing residents and businesses assistance.
Thomas Kelly, Chatham-Kent General Manager, Infrastructure & Engineering Services, said six 10-ft holes have been cored in the area of the explosion. Gas testing and monitoring are in process and this information will be used to determine the next steps.
Municipal Employment & Social Services Case Management Services are available at the centre Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. The Wheatley Area Food Bank is open each Tuesday from nine a.m. to 1 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The Centre also houses the Wheatley Branch of the Chatham Kent Library that is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm. and Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.
The centre is located at 108 Talbot Road East and can be reached by phone at 226-484-1004 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chatham-Kent CAO, Don Shropshire said the centre is the result of a partnership between the municipality and the Wheatley Recovery Group, a community effort involving Wheatley residents including the Business Improvement Association.
“We have committed to providing assistance to the community and having the Wheatley Recovery Group involved means we can directly address issues from a local perspective and provide the assistance people need most,” he said. “We’re grateful for the partnership.”
The municipality is urging residents with questions about the situation to reach out through the centre, call the municipality at 519-360-1998 or 3-1-1 Monday-Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm or email email@example.com.
Residents can subscribe to the email updates through the Subscription Services page on the Chatham-Kent website or by contacting the Municipality.
“We urge residents to reach out to the municipality or the Wheatley Recovery Group,” he said. “Social media lends itself to the spread of rumours and half-truths and we’ve seen both recently. If someone posts information on social media that is contrary to what we are providing, be very skeptical. We rely on facts and we are accountable. That’s not always the case elsewhere.”
Chatham-Kent’s General Manager of Community Human Services, April Rietdyk said housing services are still being provided to a number of families and individuals. “There may be residents who had temporary accommodations when the evacuation took place but whose circumstances have changed,” she said. “We want residents to know we’re still here to help.”
Rietdyk said case managers are also able to help displaced individuals in obtaining winter coats and cold-weather clothing. “Residents in the evacuated area don’t have access to their personal property and with cold weather approaching the need for season-appropriate clothing is growing more urgent,” she said.
Residents requiring emergency housing outside of weekday office hours may call the Homeless Response Line (HRL) at 519-354-6628.
Evacuees may also call 519-351-8573 Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm and ask to speak with a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager for assistance with housing, food, and other support services.
Residents requiring general information should call 519-360-1998 or 3-1-1, Monday- Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. To subscribe to email updates please email firstname.lastname@example.org.