Walkerton planning to commemorate 20 years since E. coli tragedy
WALKERTON, ONT -- A citizen’s committee will be in charge of coming up with how Walkerton will mark one of the darkest days in his history.
In May of 2000, seven people died and thousands more suffered life-long health implications after E. coli entered Walkerton’s drinking water supply, following an intense rainstorm.
The community’s current mayor, Chris Peabody, was a high school teacher in Walkerton 20 years ago.
“I remember the fear, and some of the misinformation people had,” he says.
In the days and weeks following the tragedy, Bruce Davidson became the de facto residents' spokesperson, fighting for answers and support for Walkerton E. coli victims.
He’s spent the years since the disaster sharing Walkerton’s story around the world, in order to ensure that what happened in his hometown, didn’t happen anywhere else.
“The thought of a water tragedy 20 years ago in a developed country in a small town where you thought everything was in hand was unthinkable. Unfortunately that came crashing down with horrible results,” says Davidson, who still lives in town.
Ten years after the tragedy, the Walkerton Clean Water Centre was built. It’s a world-renowned training and research facility.
Peabody says it’s one of the positives to come out of the tragedy, which the community will mark this May.
“It’s a sombre occasion - time for a reflective look back on the E. coli tragedy that happened 20 years ago. Our council has set up a citizens' committee who will plan a commemorative event for the first weekend in May.”