Walkerton urged to accept cash settlement

Almost 500 people packed a town hall to hear the terms of a cash deal that would settle a lawsuit over the E. coli water disaster that hit Walkerton, Ont. last spring.

At a meeting on Friday night, lawyers outlined the deal with the Ontario government that would pay at least $2,000 to everyone in the farming town.

A deadly strain of E. coli contaminated Walkerton's drinking water last May. The bacteria killed seven people and made more than 2,000 others sick.

Many Walkerton residents launched a $250-million class-action lawsuit after the disaster.

On Friday, the lawyers who negotiated the settlement urged the crowd to "take the deal."

Most of the residents' questions had to do with how to apply for the compensation.

And most of the crowd seemed agreeable, applauding the lawyers and the two representatives of the lawsuit at the meeting.

Terms of the proposed settlement

The deal would allow for individual cases to be evaluated separately so people who became seriously ill, for example, or had relatives die, could be compensated further, with no pre-set limits.

In exchange, the provincial government won't admit it did anything wrong leading to the contamination of the town's water supply.

The deal still has to be approved by a court. Before that happens, a judge will hear from the people of Walkerton at a public meeting scheduled for March 19.

Anyone who doesn't like the deal can reject it and go to court on their own. And there are some who don't.

The first $17 million of the settlement will be covered by insurance. The province will be on the hook for the rest however much that turns out to be.

A judicial inquiry is investigating the tainted water disaster.