Knapp hired to help businesses in Wheatley

Kyra Knapp has been contracted to spearhead Wheatley’s economic revitalization thanks to funding from the provincial government.

The Municipality of Chatham-Kent has hired an economic development staffer specific to Wheatley.

Kyra Knapp is on board thanks to funding from the provincial government.

She’s inked to a two-year contract to spearhead that community’s economic revitalization in the wake of the 2021 explosion that hit the downtown, and the fire last year at the water treatment plant.

The recovery and development strategy, fully funded by the province, comes with a budget of about $450,000.

Knapp’s accolades include being named one of EDCO’s Top 10 Economic Development Professionals in 2021 and securing a spot in Business Elite’s 2023 Top 40 Under 40 in Canada.

Her role will focus on project management for the Wheatley Task Force, driving projects aligned with the municipal-provincial agreement to foster economic growth, supporting business retention and expansion, engaging with community business leaders, and acting as Wheatley’s ambassador.

“We are grateful for the provincial support and for the opportunity from Chatham-Kent to have participated in the selection process,” said Wheatley Task Force Chair Howard Gabert in a media release. “We felt that Kyra’s professional background and leadership attributes made her the ideal candidate to take on this important role. We are confident that she will bring significant momentum to Wheatley’s recovery and help the community move forward in a progressive and positive way.”

Stuart McFadden, Chatham-Kent’s director of economic development, echoed this sentiment.

“We’re confident that this position and Kyra’s leadership will add significant momentum to Wheatley’s recovery. The future of the community is bright and we know that this position will go a long way in helping the community move forward in a progressive and positive way,” he said.

Advanced Basement Systems’ Ben Bates celebrates the company’s recent acquisition of Peak Insulation with Peak’s Michael Gray.

Advanced acquires Peak

Chatham’s Advanced Basement Systems has added a key piece to the company puzzle. It purchased Peak Insulation.

Advanced was started in 2003 by Martin and Julie Bates. The company’s focus has been on basement and crawl spaces to improve the quality of a person’s home. Foundation repair, water proofing, sump pump systems and air filtration were all services offered by the company.

However, with the acquisition of Peak, whose focus was on attic insulation, Advanced can expand what it offers to clients beyond what they, and Peak, could do individually.

On the menu now are services such as spray foam, wall injection and improvements to home comfort.

“Advanced Basement Systems is thrilled to announce that we have acquired Peak Insulation, and are expanding into attic installation! We are so excited to have (Peak’s) Michael Gray joining the team to run our insulation division and all the expertise he brings to the table,” Advanced’s Ben Bates said. “He is a licensed energy advisor, certified home inspector, and has been working for over 15 years in civil and residential construction.”

CLAC ratifies deals

Employees of Eden Villa and Village on the Thames in Chatham have new contracts.

At Eden Villa, the employees ratified a three-year agreement that provides them with annual wage increases and other improvements.

Retirement and Assisted Living in Chatham, Ontario, voted 78 percent in favour of ratifying a three-year collective agreement providing them with annual wage increases and many other improvements.

The wage increase equals 10 per cent over the length of the deal. Additionally, gains were made in shift-premium pay and advancement up the wage grid.

Service employees of Village on the Thames also have a new three-year deal.

The new deal provides 9.5 per cent in wage increases over the life of the contract, as well as improved benefits and additional statutory holidays.

Both groups are represented by Southwestern Ontario Healthcare and Service Workers Union, CLAC Local 303.

Local farm benefits from Y-drop effort

A Y-drop system on a hi-boy sprayer is helping a Dresden area farmer optimize nitrogen application and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Greg Devries, who owns and operates Cedarline Farms with his family, applied for cost-share funding through the Ontario On-Farm Climate Action Fund (OFCAF) after seeing others use a Y-drop system.

“Corn is a very expensive crop to grow and fertilizer has been very expensive, so we’re trying to utilize as much of the nutrients as possible,” he said in a media release. “We’re not actually putting any more nitrogen on when it comes to using the Y-drops, but we’re putting it on in the areas that have the best productivity.”

The system, which attaches to the sprayer boom and connects to the distribution system so the liquid can be applied directly to the base of the plant, allows Devries to apply nitrogen into standing corn later in the season than under his previous program.

He continues to strip-till and apply nitrogen at planting, with the goal of having 80 to 100 pounds of nitrogen applied per acre by the time the crop has matured.

The overall goal at Cedarline Farms is to be successful and sustainable by protecting the environment and enriching the soil. Improving nitrogen efficiency reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which is one of the ways farmers can tackle climate change.

Funded by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the OFCAF supports farmers to implement best management practices to tackle climate change through reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and supporting increased carbon sequestration. In Ontario, it is delivered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA).

  • Business Voice is a bi-monthly column in The Chatham Voice that highlights some of the achievements made and efforts underway in Chatham-Kent’s business community. Send your information to


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here