Oil discovery delays Petrolia’s fire training centre


The Petrolia/North Enniskillen Fire Department has struck oil; but it’s not a good thing.

The local firefighters association has been planning a new fire training centre and historic center behind the Petrolia fire hall on Centre Street. Construction on the $170,000 project was expected to begin in July, but so far only the asphalt on the parking lot has been removed to make way for the building.

Chief Lawrence Swift says a contractor was clearing the site to begin construction when they noticed a problem.

“You don’t have to dig very big hole to find there was one small area where the soil was quite a different colour,” says Swift.

Local contractors confirmed it was likely some sort of historic oil well or tank. Swift says it wasn’t really a surprise. “Particularly in that area where we know the area where the fire hall is and all the way up Centre Street was a key area for refineries.

“Because of the environmental concerns, we decided to look at different options,” says Swift. “It would be fool hardy to continue to dig and say ‘we’ll deal with it as we come across it.’

“The environmental concerns could be worth much more than the building itself.”

Instead, the firefighters association, with the blessings of both Petrolia and Enniskillen Township, has talked to the engineer who has been doing the work for the project to see if there is a different type of foundation to lay in the area.

“The decision was, rather than dealing with unknown, leave it as is…we’ve engaged the engineers, rather than traditional style foundation.”

Swift says pillars or even a cement slab may be a solution to the problem. There is also a chance the building would have to be on another site – Swift says that is on the bottom of the list of their options now.

Swift is hoping to hear back from the engineers soon and says it is still possible to complete the project this year if a simple solution is found.

“It is a 10-week project and the contractors say it could be completed…but they would be building into December.”






  1. Someone should be documenting these finds before they are covered up again. Both for historic/archaeological and environmental reasons.

    I have an ongoing project to recreate Petrolia’s historic Centre St. refining district, which began right about where the firehall is and the location of any well, tank, foundation, etc. is invaluable data…

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