Kitchener – It’s been three weeks since an explosion rocked a quiet Kitchener neighbourhood and residents of Sprucedale Crescent continue to come together and work with city staff to recover and rebuild. Hearing the stories of people coming together is one of the most heartwarming parts about recovering from a significant event.

One of the ways Sprucedale Crescent resident Brock Greenhalgh wanted to help the neighbourhood heal was by starting a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for benches that could be installed throughout the neighbourhood as a place where residents could gather to talk and visit with each other. As of Wednesday, Sept. 12, they reached their $5,000 goal.  

“One of the things that stood out to me was how quickly everyone started to help,” stated Greenhalgh. “The explosion impacted us all and we all have our own stories to tell. The benches are meant to be a simple gesture of kindness, love and hope so that we can start to move forward together.”

Having a strong community provides an excellent foundation for residents to support one another, which is one of the goals of the city’s neighbourhood strategy. We have seen the strength of this neighbourhood from the actions they have been taking since the explosion.

“It has been incredibly touching to work with the residents of Sprucedale Crescent and Blackwell Drive,” said Josh Joseph, supervisor of the city’s neighbourhood development office. “Immediately they opened their homes to first responders and came together to support each other and help themselves heal as a community.” 

In addition to supporting the residents with arranging and installing the benches, staff also hosted an information session for those directly impacted to provide updates, answer their questions and connect them to services they may need as they try to return to their normal lives after this incident. Neighbours were given a debrief about the initial response and were connected to staff from the building division, neighbourhood development office and other support agencies in the community to help them process what happened and ensure they were supported beyond the physical damage resulting from the blast.

“There are different phases in emergencies and we need to ensure we’re providing support to keep residents safe through all phases of a particular event,” said Steve LaRochelle, community emergency management coordinator for the City of Kitchener. “While no one can predict when or how an event will take place, we work hard to ensure we have the tools, plans, systems and partners in place to respond to any event our community is faced with.”

In addition to what the city and its partners are doing to ensure they are prepared in case of an emergency, there are things residents can do to help prepare themselves. Having an emergency kit that includes an easy to grab bag will ensure you and your family have the essentials needed should you ever be forced to evacuate your home. Find more information about emergency planning and how to prepare your family at

For more information about how the city is helping to build strong neighbourhoods by supporting resident led initiatives, visit

- 30 –