By Greg Coulter
& Mark Ribble
The Southpoint Sun
As the Wheatley evacuation zone retreated, several Wheatley businesses finally got more permanent access to their buildings and began the process of trying to get their doors opened again.
Fences being moved were a welcome sight to all involved and to top it off, the intersection at Erie and Talbot Streets opened as well (except for that small stretch of Erie North).
Traffic flows directly through Wheatley from east to west (or vice versa) for the first time in about 10 months.
With that, came the possibility that businesses that previously could not access their buildings would be able to.
Lil Hil’s Coffee Shop has been operating out of the Talbot Trail Golf Club since last fall and plans to stay put for the time being, until the massive cleanup needed at her restaurant location is complete. She said she has committed to staying at the golf course for the season.
Others have pivoted as well, with Barry Broadbent’s Car Barn catering trailer finding a new home at Two Creeks Conservation Area. The Car Barn has been operating out of Two Creeks for a few weeks now and is experiencing a robust amount of business.
According to Wheatley BIA’s Mike Renwick, the community awareness by organizations such as Two Creeks, Talbot Trail and others has had a positive impact on those who are scrambling to get back into their homes and businesses.
“Two Creeks not only allowed Car Barn to set up out there, they’ve also allowed the Remembrance Day services there, the Christmas light decorations and the community fish fry,” he said. “They’ve gone above and beyond in this community.”
Renwick’s own business — Renny’s Village Smokehouse — will be awhile before it can open back up, he said.
“It’s like peeling back the layers of an onion,” he said. “It’s not going to be a quick process.”
At Briar Patch on the corner of Erie and Talbot, owner Tracey DeClerck said she’s in the beginning stages of assessing the damage.
Down at J’s Fabric & General Store, Justina Giesbrecht hopes to be ready in a “couple of weeks,” as she and her daughter were able to get in and assess what needs to be done.
Dollar Haven is back up and running after opening earlier last week. They’ve got lots of stock and sustained no structural damage from the explosion. Business had been good so far.
The OG Pizza group has been hard at it making pizzas for Wheatley for a couple of weeks now in their original location on Talbot Street West.
They spent about a month doing a complete sanitation and removing everything that was not nailed down in order to get their business ready.
Mike Untch at Adamson’s Guardian Drugs is still not sure if his building can be repaired, so he plans on staying at the site at the Friendship Club for now.