30 benches ready for neighbours of Sprucedale house explosion

Kitchener's Brock Greenhalgh is ready to install 30 park benches in his neighbourhood, which he hopes will restore a sense of community after a house explosion levelled a house on his street this summer.

Brock Greenhalgh says benches arrived Thursday morning and just have to be set up

Thirty boxes containing 30 park benches are sitting on Brock Greenhalgh's driveway. He says they just have to be assembled and delivered. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

A Kitchener man says he's reached his goal of raising $5,000 to buy park benches, which will be placed along his street as a way to restore a sense of community after a house explosion rocked his neighbourhood this summer.

Brock Greenhalgh told CBC K-W the benches arrived at around 10:00 a.m. Thursday morning from Home Hardware. He hopes to have all the benches assembled and in place by Saturday.

"For the next few days, we're going to be putting them together," Greenhalgh said. He's even organized a Building Bee for some of his neighbours.

As they're assembled, he said the benches will be delivered to homes along Sprucedale Crescent, Blackwell Drive, Claycroft Crescent and the surrounding area. 

'Step in the right direction'

Residents will be encouraged to put their bench wherever they feel it is needed: in the front yard, in the back yard, on the porch or even in the basement.

That's our new normal, for now, when we walk out our front doors. But it will get better.- Brock Greenhalgh

Ten wooden benches donated by the City of Kitchener will also be set up in public spaces. 

"I'm hoping that this little project can start the conversation about moving forward," Greenhalgh said.

"The community itself was ripped apart back on the 22nd of August and it's going to take more than benches to do that, but at least it's a step in the right direction."

The City of Kitchener has also donated 10 benches, which will be set up in public spaces. (Melanie Ferrier/CBC)

'Start to heal'

Aug. 22 was the day 56 Sprucedale Cres. — the house across the street from Greenhalgh — exploded just after 8:00 a.m.

The explosion levelled the house and damaged three others around it.

Waterloo Regional Police Service said members from the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal were called in to investigate after a fatal explosion in south Kitchener. (Waterloo Regional Police Service/Twitter)

Udo Haan, 58, was seriously injured in the explosion. His wife Edra Haan, 58, was killed in the explosion. Police have ruled her death a homicide.

Greenhalgh said everyone in the neighbourhood was shaken by the explosion, and the burnt-out crime scene is a harsh reminder. 

"That's our new normal, for now, when we walk out our front doors," he said. "But it will get better." 

The benches are one way he is trying to make things better, by giving people in his community a place to gather and "start to heal." 

About the Author

Melanie Ferrier

Melanie Ferrier is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in Kitchener, Ont. You can email her at melanie.ferrier@cbc.ca.