Chatham-Kent lobbying the Province for more Wheatley funding, work continues at the site of the explosion

Facing a $5.28-million shortfall in connection to the Wheatley explosion, Chatham-Kent Council directed administration on Monday, October 3, 2022 to continue lobbying the Province of Ontario to fill the financial gap.

Council approved the following recommendations at their virtual meeting:

– The 2021 net unfunded costs of $2.29 million be funded through the 2021 operating variance.

– The 2022 projected net unfunded costs of $5.28 million be brought forward to year end, and if no other upper level funding is received, be considered in the overall 2022 operating variance.

– Council authorize and approve those actions taken by the Mayor and administration in response to the emergency situation in Wheatley, including purchases that were deemed necessary in response to the emergency.

– Council authorize the General Manager, Infrastructure and Engineering Services to negotiate and execute agreements with such contractors that are required to provide services described in this report, with the following restrictions: If the value of any agreement exceeds the General Manager’s purchasing authority under the Municipal Purchasing Bylaw, the Chief Administrative Officer also provide approval of the agreement; the approval be for a period of no more than six months; and all agreements be subject to approval of the terms of the agreements by the Director, Legal Services.

– Mayor and Administration re-engage with MPP Trevor Jones and Provincial staff on the importance of the Province taking financial responsibility for the Wheatley Emergency instead of local taxpayers or impacting local services.

“Since the beginning of this emergency situation, the Municipality has worked alongside the Province to identify and address the source of the gas leak and to support the community of Wheatley,” said Matt Torrance, director of financial services in Chatham-Kent, in a staff report.

“As of August 31, 2022 the Municipality has incurred $17,670,432 (2021 $5,572,840; 2022 as of August 31 $12,097,592) of total gross expenses related to the Wheatley emergency. These expenses include total direct costs, business support grants flowed through the Municipality from the Province, and an allocation of internal wages already included in the 2021 and 2022 budgets.”

Read the full staff report, here.

In a media release issued on Monday, Municipal officials said the Municipality’s contractors would be performing a production flow test of the monitoring well in the municipal parking lot for the duration of the day Tuesday, October 4.

“Safety systems are in place to pump water out of the well for 6 hours and measure the quantity and concentration of any gasses emitted,” Municipal officials say.

“This data is needed to further review the evacuation zone and for future right sizing of equipment.”

Preparations for this work commenced on Monday, October 3 at 12 p.m.

“All air monitors will be operational, and the Chatham-Kent Fire Department will be onsite,” Municipal officials added.

If residents smell any gas, they should immediately call 9-1-1, Municipal officials say.

- Advertisment -