Businesses and residents in rural Chatham-Kent can expect better access to natural gas in the future but exactly when is still up in the air.
Provincial minister of infrastructure Monte McNaughton announced Ontario's plans to expand natural gas Monday morning at Cedarline Greenhouses in Dresden. He said 1,300 homes will have access to natural gas that didn't before.
McNaughton said agriculture is a huge part of Ontario's economy and Chatham-Kent plays a pivotal role in the sector.
"Over the past decade, southwestern Ontario has been hard hit with some of the manufacturing job losses," McNaughton said. "To have an announcement right here, outside of Dresden announcing that 1,400 jobs are going to be created because natural gas is going to be run is great news for families here."
McNaughton claims there will be $260 million worth of private sector investment in the municipality with natural gas expansion. He said the jobs will be created with new greenhouses, small businesses, and agricultural businesses.
On top of job creation, the minister said natural gas will save residents money.
"We've known over the last number of years how hydro bills have skyrocketed for families," McNaughton said. "I've spoken to many people locally and they've had to choose between heating and eating and that's a tragedy in Ontario. We campaigned in the last election to put more money back into peoples pockets and fixing the hydro mess."
McNaughton added families will save up to $2,500 per year with the natural gas expansion.
He couldn't say exactly when construction will start, just that it will begin this year and he hopes it will be as soon as possible. There is also no estimated completion date as again McNaughton said he hopes it will be "as quickly as possible."