Province commits $2M to Wheatley following devastating explosion

Wheatley gas explosion. (Photo courtesy of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

The government of Ontario has announced further action to help the residents and businesses directly affected by the gas leak explosion that rocked the town of Wheatley last month.

On Saturday during a virtual town hall meeting, the province announced that it will be providing $2 million to aid eligible Wheatley businesses to resume operations. The funding will also be used to provide goods and services to local families.  The municipality and the Wheatley business community will be working together to develop the business support program.

“The people of Wheatley have shown tremendous strength in the aftermath of the devastating gas leak explosion last month,” said Premier Doug Ford in a news release. “They have pulled together and shown incredible resolve as the community works to rebuild what was lost. As this funding shows, we stand ready and willing to help the town of Wheatley and they can continue to count on our government’s support.”

The explosion occurred on August 26 at 6 p.m., on Erie Street and Talbot Road East. Two buildings were destroyed in the blast with several surrounding buildings also damaged by flying debris.  According to the municipality, 20 people received medical aid following the blast.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford toured the explosion site in Wheatley on Tuesday, along with his Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry Greg Rickford.

“Our government stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Wheatley and this funding reaffirms our commitment to ensure they continue to have the support they need,” said Rickford.

While the source of the gas leak remains unknown, the province has contracted an expert engineering consultant to conduct a comprehensive investigation and to determine options for remediation.

Prior to the explosion, hydrogen sulphide leaks were discovered in the same area of Wheatley in early June and again in July. Both gas leaks prompted evacuation orders and a state of emergency was declared.

In addition to Saturday’s announcement of financial aid, the province has been working with the municipality and providing funding to monitor the site of the gas leak since July.