The Ontario government is investing $2.5 million this year to help municipalities better manage the hazards posed by old and inactive oil and gas wells. The funding is part of a three-year, $7.5 million investment to help communities enhance emergency preparedness and is the next step in the government’s $23.6 million action plan to tackle the challenges related to legacy oil and gas wells.

Ontario has records for approximately 27,000 oil and gas wells, primarily on private land in southwestern Ontario. The greatest need for funding is predominantly in rural municipalities in southwestern Ontario where local geology and naturally occurring petroleum resources can pose risks to public health and safety and the environment.

“As we enter this next chapter of our action plan, I am pleased to see how municipalities are finding new and innovative ways to address risks posed by old oil and gas wells and enhance local emergency planning,” said Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources. “We understand the significance of this issue in Lambton County and across southwestern Ontario and that is why we are continuing to make investments to help keep communities safe.”

In 2023, the province provided nine municipalities across southwestern Ontario with close to $2 million to purchase emergency response equipment, enhance municipal staff health and safety training and increase public education and awareness.

Lambton County used last year’s funding to purchase new equipment, provide health and safety training to staff and subscribe to petroleum industry databases.

This year, Lambton County is eligible again to receive $105,000 to build on existing projects and initiate new activities to enhance emergency preparedness and reduce risks within the community.

“The County of Lambton is looking forward to continuing work on collaborative activities with our municipal partners to build capacity for emergency preparedness and risk prevention, and increase the understanding of potential risks within Lambton County,” said Kevin Marriott, Warden, County of Lambton.

In addition to Lambton County, the following municipalities will be eligible for funding this year:

  • Municipality of Chatham-Kent
  • Oxford County
  • Brant County
  • Elgin County
  • Essex County
  • Haldimand County
  • Norfolk County
  • Regional Municipality of Niagara

This year’s investment will also allocate a portion of funding to support collaborative projects and partnerships between municipalities that pursue research, public education and outreach campaigns.

The government will continue to work alongside municipal partners and actively seek their input to ensure future funding remains adaptable to the needs of Ontario communities.

The Ministry of Natural Resources administers the Abandoned Works Program (AWP), which provides financial assistance to eligible landowners to support the plugging of oil and gas wells that are a high risk to public safety or the natural environment. The AWP covers the costs associated with oil and gas (petroleum) well plugging should a well be hazardous to the public and or the environment. To date, the province has invested $33 million to plug 440 wells across Ontario.

The Province maintains a Petroleum Well Map and a Use the Oil, Gas and Salt Resources Library Petroleum Well Map. Property owners can search either map to determine if they have an oil or gas well on their property and want to view more detailed records about it.