Wheatley’s emergency price up to $17 million

The emergency response and investigation in downtown Wheatley cost the Municipality of Chatham-Kent over $17 million.

A report presented to council on Monday evening outlines expenses incurred from 2021 to August 31, 2022.

Since the beginning of the situation, the municipality has worked alongside the province to identify and treat the source of the gas leak as well as to support the community.

According to the report, as of August 31, the municipality has incurred $17.6 million, approximately $5,572,840 in 2021 and $12,097,592 in 2022, of total emergency-related gross expenditures.

The largest expenditure items are contracts, salaries and security. The contracts cost the municipality about $6.5 million, salaries cost $3.2 million, and the security bill is nearly $2.5 million.

The province has provided the municipality with $5.9 million to date to help offset direct costs related to the Wheatley emergency.

“As the municipality continues to work with the province to stabilize the situation in Wheatley, the municipality is expected to incur additional expenditures through the remainder of 2022,” the report read. “As work at Wheatley transitions from a provincially-led investigation and mitigation phase to a monitoring and recovery phase, it is important that there is continuity of certain services.”

Some of these services include air monitoring, construction, fencing, engineering, and community safety advice.

The 2021 net unfunded costs of $2.29 million were absorbed by the 2021 operating variance. In 2021, Chatham-Kent reported an operating surplus of just $290,216.

“The administration recommends that the 2022 projected net unfunded costs of $5.28 million be deferred to the end of the year and, if no other higher level funding is received, be factored into the ‘2022 overall operating gap, with any shortfall funded from the Bridge Life Cycle Reserve,’ the report read.

Eleanor C. William