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Chatham-Kent eyes possibility of acquisition in Wheatley evacuation zone

DCN-JOC News Services
Chatham-Kent eyes possibility of acquisition in Wheatley evacuation zone
LETSTALKCHATHAM-KENT.CA — On Aug. 26, 2021 in Wheatley, Ont., a community of 3,000 people on the shores of Lake Erie in Chatham-Kent, an explosion occurred when a gas leak from an unknown source in the downtown core reached explosive levels of concentration. Pictured is the damage caused to a portion of the downtown.

CHATHAM-KENT, ONT. — Officials from the municipality of Chatham-Kent will be reaching out to owners of the 11 properties within the current Wheatley evacuation zone regarding the potential purchase of properties as part of conceptual mitigation plans for the community.

A community public meeting to discuss next steps for the zone will be held March 1.

On June 2, 2021, a state of emergency was declared in downtown Wheatley after the presence of hydrogen sulphide gas was detected which resulted in an evacuation order for several properties in the immediate vicinity.

Hydrogen sulphide was again detected by monitors that were installed on July 19, which resulted in an evacuation of 23 residential properties and 13 commercial properties.

On Aug. 26, Chatham-Kent emergency services were on the scene after gas monitoring devices placed at the site indicated the presence of gas. First responders had evacuated the buildings closest to the alarm and were in the process of evacuating a wider area when an explosion occurred. A two-block area around the blast site was evacuated and remained in effect.

Currently, Chatham-Kent, in co-operation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, will be holding the March meeting which will focus on the findings of the engineering investigations in Wheatley. Meeting details are expected to be released in the next few weeks.

According to a statement from the municipality, if the properties are publicly owned, it will allow for the implementation of safety systems that may be recommended by the municipality’s consultants and allow for community input into the vision of the area in the future.

“It is hoped that these steps may help in the rebuilding and healing process for the community,” the statement indicates. “These are only preliminary discussions at this point, and no final decisions have been made by the municipality about whether to purchase any properties. Once discussions have occurred with the property owners within the current evacuation zone, municipal administration will be reporting back to Chatham-Kent Council to determine next steps.”

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