Wheatley - State of Emergency



September 22, 2021


Second Wheatley virtual community meeting
will be held this Saturday morning

Residents of Wheatley will once again receive an update  have the opportunity to ask questions about last month's explosion during a virtual meeting to be held Saturday, September 25 at 10 a.m.

Residents can access the live meeting through the municipality's Facebook site and YouTube channel.

Questions submitted by residents onscreen will be directed to members of a panel including municipal officials and others.

Questions may be submitted in advance via email to CKcommunications@chatham-kent.ca up to two hours before the event.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff, West Kent councillors Melissa Harrigan and Mark Authier, Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire and Jennifer Barton, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry are among those participating.

Shropshire said the first meeting was held September 4 and had more than 300 people participating.

"Obviously we do not have an answer to every question but we want to make ourselves available as much as we can," he said. "COVID regulations limit public gatherings so we're doing the next best thing."



September 21, 2021

CK officials pleased with premier's visit to Wheatley

Following a meeting in Wheatley this morning, municipal officials expressed optimism that the province has a greater understanding of the crisis facing the community following an August 26 explosion in the downtown core.

Mayor Darrin Canniff, West Kent councillors Melissa Harrigan, Mark Authier, CAO Don Shropshire and Fire Chief Chris Case met with Premier Doug Ford and Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry.

Mayor Canniff said the province delivered on the key issues identified by Chatham-Kent.

"We wanted the province to lead the investigation into the cause of the gas leak. Today the province announced that Golder Associates has been contracted to do that as well as provide gas monitoring and recommend options to mitigate risks," he said.

CAO Don Shropshire said the fact that the premier met with citizens of Wheatley who are spearheading community recovery efforts was important.

"Seeing and hearing first-hand how the explosion has affected the community brings the issue into focus much more clearly than reading a report or getting information second-hand," he said. "I'm thankful the premier and minister took the time to meet with those who have been most affected."

Mayor Canniff said by speaking with residents the premier was also able to feel the spirit of the community, "The citizens of Wheatley have shown tremendous resiliency and they are determined to get through this and come out stronger."

He noted that part of a statement from Premier Ford reads, "We want the families and businesses that have been affected by this incident to know that our government has their backs." 

"When the premier makes a statement like that it means a lot," the mayor said.



September 20, 2021

Municipality reaches agreement with province

to move Wheatley explosion investigation forward


The municipality has signed an agreement with the provincial Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry to take the lead into the investigation of the source of a gas explosion that took place in downtown Wheatley August 26.

The agreement outlines the ministry's commitment to identify the source of the hydrogen sulphide gas believe to be the cause and to recommend ways to prevent future gas leaks.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said the agreement moves the investigation to the next level. "We have been preparing the site for further investigation while focusing on public safety," he said. "The safety of our residents remains key for our first responders and the province will be taking the lead on its portion of the work."

Shropshire said the municipality would be meeting with the province and its experts to provide a timeline for residents as soon as possible.

Mayor Darrin Canniff said he is pleased that the investigation is moving forward. "We are encouraging the province to expedite the investigation process and to determine what can be done financially to help the residents and businesses that have been effected. I'm confident the premier and cabinet is giving the matter strong consideration."

Municipal outreach services for Wheatley residents have relocated to the Wheatley Village Resource Centre and Food Bank at 108 Talbot Street East.  Case managers will be on site to assist evacuees with housing, food, and other support services.  This service will operate Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. during the week of September 20 to September 24. 

Evacuees may also call 519-351-8573 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm and ask to speak with a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager for assistance with housing, food, and other support services. 

Residents requiring emergency housing outside of weekday office hours may call the Homeless Response Line (HRL) at (519) 354-6628. 

Residents requiring general information should call (519) 360 – 1998 or 3-1-1 Monday- Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. To subscribe to email updates please email ck311@chatham-kent.ca.

The Wheatley Recovery Group has been essential to the recovery efforts as the group has connected residents in need, identified service gaps in the community, and launched the Wheatley BIA Disaster Relief Fund application via the Municipal website.  

"Being a member of the Wheatley Recovery Group and the partnership with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has helped our community because we have been able to identify needs, collect and distribute goods, and connect people who don't know where to turn."  Kim Grant, Treasurer, Wheatley BIA and Wheatley Recovery Group Member


September 17, 2021

Support for Wheatley residents continues:

access to disaster funding application available

Employment and Social Services continues to assist the residents of Wheatley affected by the August 26 explosion in the downtown core.

Since the incident, Case Managers have been on site at the Wheatley Arena and available by phone.

Employment and Social Services has worked with local community groups including the Wheatley Food Bank and Wheatley BIA, as part of the Wheatley Recovery Group.

The Wheatley Recovery Group has been essential to the recovery efforts as the group has connected residents in need, identified service gaps in the community, and launched the Wheatley BIA Disaster Relief Fund application via the Municipal website.  This has assisted Employment and Social Services with the delivery of supportive services to the residents of Wheatley. 

"Being a member of the Wheatley Recovery Group and the partnership with the Municipality of Chatham-Kent has helped our community because we have been able to identify needs, collect and distribute goods, and connect people who don't know where to turn."  Kim Grant, Treasurer, Wheatley BIA and Wheatley Recovery Group Member

As part of ongoing coordination efforts for residents, Employment and Social Services will be relocating municipal case managers to the Wheatley Village Resource Centre and Food Bank.

As of Monday September 20, the reception centre at the Wheatley Arena will relocate to the Wheatley Village Resource Centre and Food Bank at 108 Talbot Street East Wheatley.  Case Managers will be on site to assist evacuees with housing, food, and other support services.  This service will operate Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. during the week of September 20th to September 24. 

Evacuees may also call 519-351-8573 Monday to Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm and ask to speak with a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager for assistance with housing, food, and other support services. 

Residents requiring emergency housing outside of weekday office hours may call the Homeless Response Line (HRL) at (519) 354-6628. 

Residents requiring general information should call (519) 360 – 1998 or 3-1-1 Monday- Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm. To subscribe to email updates please email ck311@chatham-kent.ca


September 13, 2021

Wheatley outreach efforts continue

Chatham Kent municipal employees and members of Chatham-Kent emergency Services went door to door in portions of Wheatley during the weekend providing information on emergency preparedness and answering questions concerning the August 26 explosion in the town's downtown core.

Officials spoke with nearly 300 individuals and left notification for more than 250 others within one-kilometer diameter of the explosion at 15 Erie Street North.

An important part of the message was to inform residents to have a family emergency plan and emergency kit prepared. Fire Chief Chris Case said work on finding and managing the source of the gas emission is ongoing. "We can't say for sure that further evacuations won't be necessary. Community safety remains our priority so please be prepared."

A number of residents on the weekend reported noticing a smell.  In each case, emergency personnel responded with detection equipment and no gas was detected. Possible causes of the smells included agriculture related activities, smell produced by lake inversion now underway or an odour from offshore gas wells.

Municipal officials are concerned regarding unfounded rumours being circulated on social media regarding the situation.  "We are asking that residents contact the municipality if they have questions or concerns and not spread gossip on social media channels," said Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire. "If there is something to report, we will provide information to legitimate media outlets and use official municipal social media channels including the subscription list. We are committed to getting accurate Information to citizens in as timely a manner as possible. Rumors and uninformed and misguided theories simply upset residents."

Several hundred residents have joined a subscription email list to provide them with updated information regarding relocation of financial, medical and postal services as well as community-based relief efforts.

Wheatley residents can join the list by filling in a form on the municipality's website

here or by calling 3-1-1 or emailing ck311@chatham-kent.ca with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).

Local community aid efforts are being coordinated through the Active Citizens of Wheatley, the Wheatley Business Improvement Area and the Wheatley Food Bank. Information about those efforts can be found at the active citizens Facebook group.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff attended a community fund raising fish fry Sunday and said he was moved by the spirit and attitude of Wheatley citizens.

"Wheatley strong isn't just a tag line; the citizens are determined to get their community back. I've spoken to people right across the municipality and everyone in Chatham-Kent is behind Wheatley."

A technical advisory group including municipal emergency, building, engineering and utilities along with the Ontario Fire Marshall's Office and the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry is examining how best to determine the source of the leak.  Private sector officials are providing technical advice to the TAG group as well.

The municipal resource centre at the Wheatley arena remains open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Currently 12 families continue to live in temporary accommodations  provided through the centre. Evacuees should call 519-351-8573 during office hours and ask to speak to a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager. After office hours they can call 519-354-6628 and they will be assisted with access to an on-call supervisor.

Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956.

 

September 10, 2021

Municipal Officials Provide Emergency Information to Wheatley Residents

Chatham-Kent municipal employees and members of Chatham-Kent Fire & Emergency Services will be contacting various Wheatley residents by phone, email and going door-to-door across the area over the course of the next few days. The conversations with residents are aimed not only to offer reassurance and answer questions but also to assist residents with making an emergency plan and collect information for the Municipal Evacuation Registry in case further evacuations are necessary.

"Residents are being advised to have in place a family emergency plan and put together an emergency kit," explains Fire Chief Chris Case. "As we have advised, work is still ongoing to find and manage the source of the gas so we can't say for sure that further evacuations won't be necessary, community safety remains our priority, so please be prepared."

Your emergency kit includes essential items you and your family need to survive outside of your home, should you be asked to vacate your home. This includes items such as food, water, important personal documents, and medications needed, as well as a plan for your pets.

Residents who are not at home will have contact information left at their residence. Resources will also be available at the Reception Centre located at the Wheatley arena.

Additional information on preparing for an emergency can be found at https://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/beprepared/bepreparedPromotionalMaterial/PrintMaterials.html.


September 9, 2021

Vital services temporarily relocated for Wheatley residents

As officials continue to remove debris from downtown Wheatley, residents will be able to access more vital services from temporary locations away from the evacuation zone.

A mobile RBC unit has been established in the parking lot of the Wheatley Arena while the downtown RBC branch remains closed.

Adamson Guardian drugs is operating out of the Thomson Guardian drugs Leamington location at 20 Talbot St. East. Patients/customers can still dial the Wheatley number 519-825-4111. The number has been forwarded to the new location. Work continues on returning to a Wheatley location.

Wheatley mail is currently being transferred to the Leamington Post Office where additional resources are being used to handle the increased volume.

Residents can visit the Leamington location until further notice. For evacuated residents that are unable to attend the Leamington Post Office, please call Canada Post Customer Service at 1-800-267-1177.  Canada Post also intends to make every effort to deliver parcels to customers, not within the evacuation area.

Emergency officials turned off electricity to the approximately 50 locations within the evacuation zone Tuesday. Officials investigated reports of gas during the Labour Day Weekend and discovered low levels of natural gas near some Enbridge lines within the evacuation area.

It was determined that although the gas did not pose an immediate danger to the public, electricity should be turned off as a precaution.

No further natural gas has been detected in the area nor has any hydrogen sulphide been detected at the blast site since August 26.

Residents with concerns about their property, business or personal expenses are urged to contact their insurance companies to determine their coverage and to be able to access firms who deal with restoration and mitigation Issues.

Local community aid efforts are being coordinated through the Active Citizens of Wheatley, the Wheatley Business Improvement Area and the Wheatley Food Bank. Information on activities can be found at the active citizens Facebook group.

The reception centre at the Wheatley Arena has had 194 visits from 95 unique households. The centre is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. The municipality continues to provide accommodation for nine households with 25 residents. Evacuees should call 519-351-8573 during office hours and ask to speak to a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager. After office hours they can call 519-354-6628 and they will be assisted with access to an on-call supervisor.

Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956.

Wheatley residents who would like to be added to the municipality's email subscription service can do so by calling 3-1-1 or 519-360-1998 during regular business hours or by emailing ck311@chatham-kent.ca with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).

A 90-minute question and answer session held Saturday remains on municipal Facebook and YouTube channels for viewing.

Wheatley residents concerned about where to vote in the September 20 federal election can enter their address at www.elections.ca to find their polling location.


September 8, 2021

Clean up continues in Wheatley

Removal of debris from the site of an August 26 explosion in Wheatley should be concluded by the end of this week, facilitating efforts to find the source of a Hydrogen Sulphide leak suspected to be the cause of the incident.

There has been no detection of toxic, flammable gas since the explosion. Debris from the site of the explosion is being bagged and taken to a landfill facility for proper disposal of any hazardous material such as asbestos.

Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said posts on social media this week claiming that a decision has been made to demolish a number of buildings in the area are false. 

"The structural integrity of buildings in the vicinity of the blast has not been determined as of yet," he said. "Municipal officials will take the appropriate action regarding structures when it is safe to do so." 

RBC is setting up a temporary bank in the parking lot of the Wheatley Arena. The mobile unit has arrived in the community and will be operational as soon as possible. The RBC branch in downtown Wheatley remains closed.

Residents with concerns about their property, business or personal expenses are urged to contact their insurance companies to determine their coverage and to be able to access firms who deal with restoration and mitigation issues.

Local community aid efforts are being coordinated through the Active Citizens of Wheatley, the Wheatley Business Improvement Area and the Wheatley Food Bank. Information on activities can be found at the active citizens Facebook group. 

The reception centre at the Wheatley Arena has had 182 visits from 92 unique households. The centre is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Evacuees should call 519-351-8573 during office hours and ask to speak to a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager. After office hours they can call 519-354-6628 and they will be assisted with access to our on-call supervisor. 

Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956.

The municipality continues to provide accommodation for nine households with 25 residents. Wheatley residents who would like to be added to the municipality's email subscription service can do so by calling 3-1-1 or 519-360-1998 during regular business hours or by emailing ck311@chatham-kent.ca with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).

A 90-minute question and answer session held Saturday remains on municipal Facebook and YouTube channels for viewing.

Wheatley residents concerned about where to vote in the September 20 federal election can enter their address at www.elections.ca to find their polling location.


September 7, 2021

Debris clean up continues in Wheatley as officials seek the cause of the explosion

Crews continue to remove debris from the area surrounding an August 26 explosion in Wheatley to facilitate efforts to find the cause of the blast.

Debris from the site of the explosion will be taken to a landfill facility for proper disposal of any hazardous material such as asbestos. Officials were on site throughout the weekend. No readings of Hydrogen Sulphide were found around the site.

More than 325 persons took part in a 90-minute question and answer session Saturday, September 4 on municipal Facebook and YouTube channels. That session remains available for viewing by citizens who didn't participate Saturday.

The reception centre at the Wheatley Arena has had 175 visits from 91 unique households. The centre is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Evacuees should call 519-351-8573 during office hours and ask to speak to a Wheatley Crisis Case Manager. After office hours they can call 519-354-6628 and they will be assisted with access to our on-call supervisor.

Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956.

Wheatley residents who would like to be added to the municipality's email subscription service can do so by calling 3-1-1 or 519-360-1998 during regular business hours or by emailing ck311@chatham-kent.ca with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).

Wheatley residents concerned about where to vote in the September 20 federal election can enter their address at www.elections.ca to find their polling location.


September 3, 2021

Questions for Wheatley virtual community meeting can be sent in to Municipality in advance

Residents of Wheatley who have questions about last week's explosion but are unable to participate in tomorrow's virtual community meeting may submit their questions in advance to CKcommunications@chatham-kent.ca

The virtual meeting will be held Saturday, September 4 at 10 a.m. and will be viewable on the municipal Facebook site and YouTube channel.

The meeting will remain on those sites for viewing once the session is completed. Closed captioning and transcribed material will be available next week.

The session will consist of an update on the situation followed by answers to questions submitted by residents onscreen to members of a panel including municipal officials and others.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff, West Kent Councillor Melissa Harrigan, Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire, Fire Chief Chris Case and Community and Human Services General Manager April Rietdyk will participate as well as representatives from the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Chatham-Kent Legal Services Clinic. 

A representative from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry has been invited as well.

The municipality's reception centre at the Wheatley Arena will be open for support between 10 am and 2 pm Saturday through Monday. Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956. Evacuees requiring after-hours support (i.e. food, shelter, clothing) please contact case management at 519-354-6628. 


September 2, 2021

Wheatley virtual community meeting to be held Saturday

Residents of Wheatley will have the opportunity to have their questions about last week's explosion answered during a virtual meeting to be held Saturday, September 4 at 10 a.m.

The meeting will be viewable on the municipal Facebook site and YouTube channel.

Questions submitted by residents onscreen will be directed to members of a panel including municipal officials and others.

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff, West Kent Councillor Melissa Harrigan, Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire, Fire Chief Chris Case and Community and Human Services General Manager April Rietdyk will participate as well as representatives from the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Chatham-Kent Legal Services Clinic. 

A representative from the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry has been invited as well.

Shropshire said although municipal officials have been providing regular updates as the situation unfolds, the municipality wants to do more.

"We understand that people have a lot of questions," he said. "In a pre-Covid world, we would be holding the meeting in Wheatley but the next best thing is for us to use technology to reach out virtually. I encourage anyone in Wheatley who has questions to participate. We may not have all of the answers but we will do our best."


September 1, 2021

Removal of debris from Wheatley explosion begins

The process of removing rubble from the area of last Thursday's Wheatley explosion began Tuesday and is expected to take several days.

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said this morning that crews under the direction of the Ontario Fire Marshal's office and Chatham-Kent Fire Services are removing layers of debris from the area, accompanied by provincial hazmat team members with gas monitoring equipment.

Chatham-Kent CAO Don Shropshire said no timetable has been established to allow residents in the evacuation zone or business owners to return to the scene. "This is still an emergency situation and although there has been no gas detected at the periphery of the evacuation zone, we don't believe it is prudent to adjust the size of the area."

Shropshire said the evacuation zone, a two-block area around the explosion at 15 Erie Street North, could be reduced once officials believe it is safe. 

Once the debris is removed from the site, Shropshire said it is expected that the province will allocate resources to identify the source of the hydrogen sulphide leak and provide recommendations for remediation. "The province is in the process of securing the technical expertise needed to fulfill its legislated responsibility in this area," he said.

The municipality continues to staff the Wheatley Arena from 8:30 to 4:30 daily. Residents who need information after hours can call 519-350-2956. Evacuees requiring after-hours support (ie. food, shelter, clothing) please contact case management at 519-354-6628. 

More than 120 households have sought out aid and the municipality is currently providing housing to 10 households consisting of 27 people.

The municipality is helping coordinate efforts of community groups providing support. Chatham-Kent Victim Services will be on-site at the Tilbury Library from 12 to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday for anyone seeking assistance.

Families with students attending LKDSB or SCCDSB schools who have been evacuated or who have students that would normally walk through the evacuation zone on their path to Wheatley Area Public School should reach out to CLASS to discuss student transportation service options as soon as possible at 877-330-4287 or https://cklass.ca/contact-student-transportation/.

Parents of Essex County students should contact their school if they have questions concerning transportation.

Wheatley residents who want to be placed on an email subscription service can do so by calling 3-1-1 or 519-360-1998 during regular business hours or by emailing ck311@chatham-kent.ca with contact information (name, phone number, address, email address).

Wheatley mail is currently being transferred to the Leamington Post Office and residents can visit the Leamington Post Office until further notice.  For more information please call Canada Post Customer Service at 1-800-267-1177.

The ATM at the Wheatley arena is now available to access by residents during regular hours.


August 31, 2021

Framework established for Wheatley leak investigation

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said today that "significant movement" has been made in preparing to find the source of the explosion that took place in Wheatley last Thursday.

"Municipal and provincial officials met in Wheatley Monday and have formed a technical advisory group that will set parameters for the investigation of the explosion and finding the source of the hydrogen sulphide leak which is the suspected cause," he said. "Establishing how the effort will proceed is a necessary step to getting where we want to be.'

Shropshire said at this point there is no timetable for residents to return to the two-block evacuation area around the site of the blast at 15 Erie Street North.

"There are structural issues regarding a number of buildings, contaminated debris and the leak itself," he said. "It will be some time before we can contemplate allowing people into the area."

Members of the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office are inspecting the site.

A limited number of workers under the control of emergency officials will be entering a section of the downtown area away from the immediate blast zone to board up blown-out windows.

Entegrus has restored power to roughly half of the 90 customers whose electricity was turned off.

More than 100 households have sought aid at the reception area established at the Wheatley Arenas. Thirteen families are being housed and municipal officials are assisting local groups that are coordinating donations. The centre is accepting and distributing gift cards as well. 

Residents who are looking to return to their properties in the non-evacuation zone should contact 519-350-2956 prior to returning to confirm their eligibility to return. 

The Wheatley community has set up a food hub and donation reception centre at the Talbot Trail golf course in Wheatley. Please contact the golf course for further details (to donate and pick up). 

Individuals who have questions about the safety of food in residences that were without electricity should contact staff at the arena, email ck311@chatham-kent.ca or call 3-1-1. The centre, which now has an ATM, is open from 8:30 to 4:30 daily. Residents can call 519-354-6628 after business hours.


August 30, 2021

Wheatley Branch Remains Closed Due to Evacuation

Due to the recent explosion in Wheatley, Chatham-Kent Public Library's Wheatley Branch, located in the evacuation zone, will remain closed until further notice.

As the outdoor book return at the Wheatley Branch is not accessible during this time, patrons may either use the Tilbury Branch to return materials/choose new materials or hold on to check out materials as overdue fines will not be charged during this time.

Patron's holds at the Wheatley Branch are not accessible.

CKPL will provide updates about hours of operation in Wheatley based on the information and advice of emergency services.

For more information, please call Tilbury Branch at 519-682-0100 or "Ask CKPL" by phone at 519-354-2940, text at 519-401-7174, chat on Facebook @CKPLibrary or email CKPL at cklibrary@chatham-kent.ca.


August 30, 2021

The reception centre at Wheatley Arena remains open / ATM has been activated on site

Wheatley residents affected by last week's explosion may continue to receive information at the Wheatley Arena regarding food, accommodation, and other emergency needs.

The Municipality has placed 15 households consisting of 33 individuals in local hotels and motels and has provided some form of assistance to more than 85 households since Friday. Many of the households displaced were able to find accommodations on their own.

April Rietdyk, Chatham Kent's General Manager of Community Human Services said the centre will remain open as long as there is demand for its services. "We are listening to the needs of those people affected and we're trying to do as much as we are able," she said. "We now have an ATM activated and we've been providing assistance with access to food, toiletries, and clothing for those who had to evacuate."

She said staff at the arena do not have information about the cause of the explosion or when evacuated residents can return.

"Our emergency services staff are in the process of making those evaluations," she said. "We are set up to help get people through while those determinations are made."

The centre is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Residents can also call 3-1-1 during business hours or 519-354-6628 after hours.


August 28, 2021

Officials continue on-scene monitoring of Wheatley blast

Municipal staff and the staff from Ontario Fire Marshall's Office are currently on-site in Wheatley consulting with technical experts to analyzing current risks and consider adjustments to the evacuation area and detour routes. 

"Our primary consideration has been and continues to be public safety," said Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire. "We recognize that this situation is difficult for residents and businesses in Wheatley and we will make whatever accommodation we can make but only if we can do so in a safe manner. At this point, the situation remains unstable."

Shropshire said municipal officials met with representatives of the Ministry of the Solicitor General and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry this morning to convey the urgency of finding the source of the hydrogen sulphide leak believed to be the cause of an explosion In Wheatley's downtown core Thursday.

"I am certain provincial officials are fully aware of the issue and the consequences of inaction," Shropshire said. "The province is committed to bringing in technical experts to assess how they can enter the evacuated zone with the aim of finding the source of the leak, stopping it and beginning the cleanup."

Thursday marked the third time in the last three months that residents have had to evacuate due to the presence of the gas. An evacuation was underway Thursday when the explosion occurred.

Twenty people received medical aid and one Chatham-Kent employee remains in hospital as the result of a blast that levelled a building at 15 Erie Street North and severely damaged numerous others in the Erie/Talbot Street intersection.


August 27, 2021

Mayor Canniff calls on the province to fulfill its responsibility regarding the ongoing Wheatley gas leak issue

Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff this morning called on the provincial government to use its authority and expertise to respond to a recurring hydrogen sulphide leak believed to be the cause of an explosion In Wheatley's downtown core Thursday.

Twenty people received medical aid and one Chatham-Kent employee remains in hospital as the result of a blast that levelled a building at 15 Erie Street North and severely damaged numerous others in the Erie/Talbot Street intersection.

It is the third detected leak in the area since June. The previous two leaks resulted in evacuations and an evacuation was underway Thursday when the explosion took place.

"I want to express my thanks for the more than 100 first responders and municipal staff who saved lives by evacuating as much of the area as they could before the explosion," he said, "but we cannot allow this situation to continue."

"It is unacceptable for the people of Wheatley to live in fear. We are continuing our calls for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to take control of the situation and use its authority and expertise to find the source of the leak and correct the issue."

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said a two-block area around the blast site has been evacuated and will continue to be cordoned off until further notice. "A hazmat team has placed monitors around the perimeter of the evacuated area and there is gas being detected. It is too dangerous to enter the area. The risk of another explosion is very real."

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said, "We need the province to see the urgency in the situation. We have provided the ministry with all of the information we have been able to gather that indicates this leak is coming from an abandoned gas well. It is clear that the province has the responsibility, the authority and the expertise to act."

Shropshire said the inaction is putting the lives of residents and first responders at risk.

"We cannot expect those members of our community or those individuals from Windsor-Essex who responded to put their lives on the line in this manner."

Municipal officials have requested a meeting with the province to demand a formal plan of action.


August 26, 2021

Explosion in downtown Wheatley, emergency crews on scene

Emergency officials from Chatham-Kent remain on the scene of an explosion that took place at the corner of Erie Street and Talbot Street in downtown Wheatley at approximately 6 p.m. this evening.

Chatham-Kent fire, EMS and police have responded. Two buildings are heavily damaged.

Homes and businesses in the area have been evacuated. Three persons have been taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Gas monitoring devices placed at the site indicated the presence of gas at approximately 4:30 p.m., setting off alarms and activating a 9-1-1 call.

First responders had evacuated the buildings closest to the alarm and were in the process of evacuating a wider area when the explosion occurred.

The explosion is in the vicinity of the location where hydrogen sulphide gas was first discovered in June of this year, prompting an evacuation order and the declaration of a state of emergency.

In July, the municipality declared a second state of emergency after confirming hydrogen sulfide was once again present in the building on 15 Erie St. North. That state of emergency remained in effect.

A reception centre has been established at the Wheatley Arena for those who have been evacuated.

An update will be issued Friday morning.


August 3, 2021

Province to investigate Wheatley gas detection; declaration of emergency remains in place

The Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry has committed to undertake an investigation to identify the source of the Wheatley gas detection and what might be done to mitigate future occurrences

Ministry staff are consulting with industry experts to develop plans for the investigation. The province will share additional information with the municipality and the public as it becomes available.

In the interim, the emergency declaration remains in place at 15 Erie Street North and gas monitoring has been maintained at this location. There has been no new detection of gas since the last report on July 19.

The municipality is working with the property owner and ministry staff to develop plans that will ensure the rescinding of the emergency declaration.  As was the case with the emergency declaration in June, we are recommending gas monitoring continue after the declaration has been rescinded.

Given the reoccurrence of the gas detection, the ongoing monitoring offers an increased level of safety for those working in the building and ensures emergency services can be notified and a further public evacuation can be implemented if needed.

We appreciate the ongoing support and patience of the property owner and the community as we work to address the challenges presented by the situation.


July 22, 2021 

State of emergency area to be reduced in Wheatley today

A state of emergency declared in Wheatley Tuesday due to the detection of Hydrogen Sulphide gas is being reduced to a single location.

The gas was detected Monday through monitors installed at 15 Erie Street North, the site of an earlier release that forced an evacuation of the area.

Readings in the last 24 hours have indicated no presence of gas and therefore the scope of the emergency site and the evacuation orders have been narrowed down to just 15 Erie Street North.  Over the next few days, ongoing gas monitoring will take place at this location to ensure a consistent period of stability. 

Senior municipal officials and Mayor Canniff will be speaking with provincial officials this afternoon to update them on the developments and findings in the last 24 hours with the intention to transfer this matter to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

Residents evacuated will be permitted to return to their homes once hydro has been restored this afternoon.

Affected businesses will be allowed to open once power is restored and relevant health inspections are completed.

Residents and business owners are being contacted by municipal staff today to facilitate their return.

A total of 52 people in 23 homes and 13 businesses in the area were evacuated Monday.


July 19, 2021

Update: Wheatley Gas Leak

Chatham-Kent Fire crews responded to 15 Erie St N, formally known as the Pogue with reports that a hydrogen sulphide detector had activated just after 8am this morning. Firefighters from Wheatley – Station 20 & Tilbury – Station 19 are currently on the scene, along with Chatham-Kent Police Service, Chatham-Kent EMS, Enbridge Gas & Entegrus

It has been confirmed that hydrogen sulphide gas is present in the building; however, the source of the gas is currently unknown.  Erie St N between Talbot St. and Elm St. and Talbot St. E between Erie St. to Little St. have been closed off with 23 residences and 13 businesses evacuated as a precaution, displacing 52 people.  Municipal Housing Officers from Community Human Services are currently working with the displaced residents to provide emergency accommodation where required.

The Provincial Hazmat Team from Windsor Fire Rescue was on scene, surveying and testing the area to confirm the presence of Hydrogen Sulphide with samples of gas recovered for laboratory analysis.  Requests for assistance to a number of Provincial Ministry Partners have been made.

Hydrogen sulphide gas is highly toxic, corrosive and extremely flammable, crews will remain on scene tonight to monitor gas levels and maintain the safety of the community.  We appreciate the support and co-operation of the community during this time.


June 28, 2021

Wheatley State of Emergency Terminated


June 19, 2021

Wheatley Update

Yesterday we communicated that we hoped to be in a position as early as noon on Saturday, June 19th to terminate the Declaration of the State of Emergency and also the evacuation order that affected the lands within the community of Wheatley and within the boundary of Chatham-Kent.

Based on the advice of technical experts, we are now able to narrow the evacuation order to just two properties in Wheatley, those being 15 Erie Street North and 9 Talbot Street. All other owners and occupants will no longer be prevented from entering their properties subject to an inspection by emergency services personnel prior to entry.  The Declaration of the State of Emergency will remain in effect while the Municipality continues to work with the two remaining property owners to put gas monitoring in place before ending the Declaration of the State of Emergency. 

For all other owners and occupants, you are asked to attend the Resource Centre at the Wheatley Arena, located at 196 Erie Street North in Wheatley between the hours of 12pm to 3pm on Saturday, June 19th to pick up an information package and resources and to receive assistance from emergency service personnel with respect to proper re-entry.

Gift cards will also be available for evacuated or returning residents who require assistance replacing perished food.     

Mayor Darrin Canniff said, "We are all anxious to see the community of Wheatley return to its vibrant state with businesses re-opened and residents back in their homes but based on the advice we have received, some further monitoring of two locations is required before we can move the whole community back out of a state of emergency."

Residents who cannot attend the Resource Centre during the 12 pm to 3pm timeframe on Saturday may call 519.350.2956 for general information between the hours of 3pm and 60m o Saturday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday. 


June 18, 2021

Wheatley prepares to re-open

A state of emergency and evacuation order was enacted on June 3rd due to a gas leak reported at 15 Erie St. North on June 2. Gas monitoring was carried out every 15 minutes during this period by CK Fire Services.   In addition to that monitoring, gas readings were performed by the Provincial Hazardous Materials Team and a private sector gas monitoring company. Mayor Darrin Canniff said no hydrogen sulphide gas has been detected at that site since Friday, June 4.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said given the absence of gas for this many days there is no justification to continue the state of emergency.

With the termination of the state of emergency, the evacuation order will also be terminated hopefully as early as noon on Saturday, June 19th, 2021. When this takes place residents and business owners will no longer be prevented from entering their properties.

The municipality has consulted with subject matter experts at the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and the Solicitor General, all of whom acknowledged that the Municipality has responded to the gas leak according to best practices and no additional action by the Municipality has been recommended. The Municipality has also consulted with industry experts in the private sector who have recommended private property owners consider gas monitoring on their properties. 

Chatham Kent Fire Services personnel have been on the scene since the state of emergency was declared and will remain there until it and the evacuation order concludes.

Utilities will be restored as the state of emergency and the evacuation orders are terminated.  A notice of the termination of the state of emergency will be provided to the media and posted on the municipality's social media accounts once confirmed.  Property owners are directed to contact the proper utilities to work through that process.

Emergency personnel will then be available Saturday to accompany residents and business owners to their properties and perform gas monitoring if requested.

The municipality is inviting residents to participate in a Virtual Town Hall meeting via the Zoom platform with local and provincial officials at 11 a.m. Saturday to answer any questions residents may have.  Login information can be found at the end of the media release.

Media is asked not to participate in the 11 a.m. call to allow residents' concerns to be heard. A conference call for media outlets only will be held at 12:30 p.m. Login information for that call will follow under a separate media release.

A resource centre is being established at the Wheatley arena Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Residents who cannot attend the online meeting can visit the arena. General information will also be available from noon to 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. by calling 519.350.2956.

The municipality is providing garbage bins near the evacuation site in the event residents need to dispose of perishables left in their residences or buildings during the evacuation. Local food banks have been approached about providing emergency aid for those who may have had to dispose of food.

A fact sheet on hydrogen sulphide can be found on the Chatham-Kent Public Health website at https://ckphu.com/health-topics/emergency-preparedness/hydrogen-sulphide-h2s/

We remind you that in the event that you smell or otherwise detect gas, you should immediately leave the building and contact 911.  You may want to consider having a "Grab and Go" back by your door in the event you are required to leave quickly.


 June 7, 2021

 Emergency Crews Remain on Scene at Erie St. N

Emergency responders remain at Erie St. N and the state of emergency continues after a gas leak found in Wheatley on Wednesday afternoon.  Provincial Officers will be on the scene today to continue the investigation into the source of the gas, which is a technical and complex challenge.

The Provincial Hazmat Team confirmed on Friday that the levels of the gas had dropped, which is welcome news for the safety of the community, but it is still unknown how or where the gas coming from and therefore protections remain in place on the advice of the Provincial Hazmat Team.

"We completely understand the concerns and frustrations of the families and business owners affected by the evacuation in what is already a challenging time and I want to thank them for their patience and understanding," says Fire Chief Chris Case.  "I would also like to thank the firefighters who have been working in shifts 24/7 for over 170 hours to maintain the safety of the community.  The support for our teams from the community has been overwhelming."

Top priority continues to be protecting the safety of people and property.  The area cannot reopen until it is safe to do so.  Fire and police services are monitoring gas levels and are prepared to respond if required.  Municipal staff continue to work with the Ministry of Natural Resources and industry experts, to try to identify the cause of the gas leak and to determine what is required to safely reopen the area.

"Hydrogen Sulphide is highly toxic and explosive in certain concentrations," explains Case, "We cannot stress highly enough the risk that exists with this gas potentially being released in an uncontrolled manner into the atmosphere, our actions to date have been to protect our local community"


June 4, 2021

Provincial Hazmat Team on Scene at Erie St. N

Chatham-Kent Fire & Emergency crews continue to monitor the situation on Erie St. N in Wheatley.  Firefighters from stations across Chatham-Kent are rotating shifts at the site of a gas leak that started Wednesday afternoon. 

"The provincial hazmat team is currently on scene continuing to survey the conditions," explains Fire Chief Chris Case.  "We are working with our local and provincial partners to try and keep disruption to a minimum but continuing to keep community safety as our highest priority."

A state of emergency was declared yesterday morning.  Officials continue to collaborate to find a solution.  We would like to thank the tremendous understanding from the residents and businesses affected. The public is reminded to avoid the area.


June 3, 2021

State of Emergency continues in Wheatley

Emergency officials remain on scene in Wheatley as the result of a gas leak discovered in the downtown area Wednesday afternoon.

The leak of Hydrogen Sulphide forced the evacuation of 27 individuals living in the area and the closure of a number of businesses.

Electric Service remains off in the area due to the presence of toxic, explosive gas.

Chatham-Kent Chief Administrative Officer Don Shropshire said the municipality has contacted an expert who is on the way to determine the source of the leak and recommend remediation.

Chatham-Kent Fire Chief Chris Case said the gas is consistent with a leak coming from a well, however, that has not been determined.

He said hazmat officials from Windsor determined yesterday that the gas is of sufficient concentration to require that the area be evacuated.

Mayor Darrin Canniff this morning declared a state of emergency that remains In effect.

The public is being asked to avoid the area.


June 3, 2021

State of Emergency declared in Wheatley

Mayor Darrin Canniff this morning declared a state of emergency regarding the gas leak discovered in downtown Wheatley Wednesday afternoon.

Emergency personnel remain on scene in the vicinity of 16 Erie Street North where the presence of Hydrogen Sulphide has been detected.

Electric service has been shut off for 20 customers in the area including 13 residential dwellings. Sixteen residents have been evacuated without incident.

Investigators have not determined the origin of the leak but confirmed it Is not related to any natural gas service provided by Enbridge.

Mayor Canniff said the level of gas detected presents a significant safety risk and emergency personnel have established a perimeter around the area.

The Provincial Ministry of Environment was also on scene and the Ministry of Natural Resources has been informed. Windsor Hazmat team attended yesterday evening to assist. 

Personnel from CK Police Service, CK EMS and Enbridge also attended.

The public is being asked to please avoid the area.

More information on the incident will be made available during this morning's 11 a.m. weekly media conference.


June 3, 2021
Gas Leak in Downtown Wheatley

Chatham Kent Fire Service crews from Station 20 in Wheatley and Station 19 in Tilbury attended 16 Erie Street North in downtown Wheatley Wednesday just before 2:30 p.m. for a reported gas leak.

Windsor Hazmat team attended yesterday evening to assist. 

Homes in the area have been evacuated.

Personnel from CK Police Service, CK EMS and Enbridge also attended.

The Provincial Ministry of Environment was also on scene and the Ministry of Natural Resources has been informed.

The public is being asked to please avoid the area.

More information on the incident will be made available during this morning's 11 a.m. weekly media conference.