Windsor

Chatham-Kent says Wheatley explosion response cost tops $5.5M

The cost of responding to the explosion in Wheatley has grown to more than $5.5 million, leaving Chatham-Kent officials looking to the province for additional funding.

Municipality is in talks with the province about expenses not covered by existing funding

Chatham-Kent has spent more than $5.5 million on its response to last summer's explosion in Wheatley. (Municipality of Chatham-Kent)

The cost of responding to the explosion in Wheatley has grown to more than $5.5 million, leaving Chatham-Kent officials looking to the province for additional funding.

The province had previously committed $2 million to the municipality in wake of the Aug. 26 blast, but a report to Chatham-Kent council states that as of Dec. 31, the pricetag for the response had exceeded that funding by $3.5 million.

Among the costs cited in the report is about $1.9 million for fire and emergency services, $1.4 million for infrastructure and engineering services, including consulting fees and contracts.

The municipality has also paid about $385,000 for human services like housing and shelter, and about $351,000 for policing.

The explosion occurred in the small town's core, and is believed to be the result of gas leaking from an underground well. Two buildings were destroyed and several more were damaged. Residents and businesses in the area are still under an evacuation order.

The report states the municipality is currently in discussions with the province about the expenses not covered by the $2-million grant, and administration will make recommendations on covering any outstanding expenses in its year-end variance report.

CBC News has reached out to the province for comment but has not yet heard back.

The report is on the agenda for Chatham-Kent council's next meeting on Monday evening.

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