Many Residents Frustrated and Worried Months After Hickory Drive Explosion

Months after the Hickory Drive house explosion—set off intentionally as part of a double suicide—some residents are still displaced and wondering when their lives will return to normal.

A press conference was held on Thursday, January 12 at the Burnhamthorpe Community Centre to provide Mississauga residents with an update regarding the ongoing investigation into the devastating explosion. Now, there was a previous conference held at the end of December by the Chief of Police, Fire Chief and Mayor Crombie, but that was strictly for the press. This conference was basically the same, but they took questions from the public.

There were a number of officials present, including Ward 3 Councillor Chris Fonseca, Mississauga Fire Department Chief Tim Beckett, Peel police superintendent Robert Ryan, Ontario Fire Marshal Kevin Pahor and Inspector Gavin Francis.

There are actually going to be two public meetings. This one was led by police, with the fire department and the Ontario Fire Marshall addressing issues specific to the investigation.

Councillor Fonseca explained that because there are still a number of families who have yet to return to their homes, there will be another community meeting on January 25 with representatives from the insurance industry and support services to address residents' concerns regarding those issues. This second meeting is also going to take place at the BCC.

As for Dianne Page and Robert Nadler, the occupants of the house, the letters they left behind indicated they were a disturbed and paranoid couple preoccupied by financial and personal health issues—plus conspiratorial concerns over world politics, government corruption, scandals and kickbacks to big corporations. According to their neighbours, they were reclusive and kept their doors locked most of the time. Nadler apparently believed he was suffering from cancer, but his autopsy didn't find any traces of the disease.

The people in the audience had some interesting questions to pose to the officials. The majority of those who spoke live on Hickory Drive or on nearby Rathburn. Only one person released his full name to the present media.

Natural Gas

According to Pahor, the cause of the explosion was from a deliberate disconnection of a natural gas pipe fitting in the basement, which allowed natural gas to leak into the confined space of 4201 Hickory Drive. Some people asked if there were additional chemicals that were detected, such as radon, but Pahor said there wasn't. Some people thought they smelled sulfur, while others disputed that anything was smelled at all, even though investigators found witnesses who said they smelled gas.

Some people say natural gas, when mixed with normal air, gives off a sulfur like odor. Perhaps that's what it was when someone said they thought they smelled sulfur before the explosion occurred.

Monitoring Suspicious People?

Sex offenders typically go onto a sex offender's registry and are publicly known. But for people convicted of general criminal offenses, once they serve their time, there's no similar registry. At this point, there’s no way for the public to know that a person with a troubling criminal history is moving to their neighbourhood. According to the investigators, Robert Nadler was paroled in 1991 after serving time for murder, and for over 20 years he hadn’t done anything to arouse suspicion from his parole officer or the police.

One of the residents asked if Nadler was monitored at any point due to his prior convictions and time served, or if the city of Mississauga kept track of his financial problems. He kept his appointments with his parole officers, and they're trained to notice if something is off. As for keeping track of his financials, unless the man wasn't paying his taxes, I doubt the city would have had the jurisdiction to overreach into his private financial situation. Nadler's employment record shows he was employed until 2001/2002, after that he was reported to be retired.

Another resident said 4201 Hickory always had the windows covered up in tin foil. But if what was said about Nadler and Page was accurate—that they distrusted established institutions like the government—then maybe they were conspiracy nuts that thought tinfoil would keep the signals from the government satellites that were watching them out of their home.

While the concerns are understandable, do we really want to have some big surveillance apparatus that can monitor every suspicious person out there? This was such an unexpected and rare occurrence, from someone that was flying so low under the radar of the authorities, that the statistics just don't warrant that level of monitoring and surveillance.

Insurance Matters

While there is going to be another meeting on January 25 to discuss insurance and other services that people may require if they still have ongoing issues, that didn't stop people from bringing insurance up during this press conference.

A man who identified himself as Ron Thompson, a resident of nearby townhomes on Rathburn Road, asked why there wasn't a declaration of a state of emergency. The officers answered that the parameters of declaring a state of emergency are based on magnitude of the event, and the availability of resources. Chief Beckett says there were enough resources not to declare an emergency for this occurrence.

Another question pertained to Page and Nadler's own insurance situation. Did anyone stand to gain from their demise? Was this an intentional act for the purposes of paying out insurance money to anyone? Some residents talked about getting together and filing a class action lawsuit.

Aviva Insurance Company actually has a rather definitive definition of what their particular coverage under your homeowner’s/property insurance is when it comes to providing additional living expenses when an evacuation of your property is required. A mass evacuation declared by a civil authority, in this case the police and fire departments, would trigger the coverage in your policy that provides expenses for hotel accommodations, food, rent and other related living costs during the time you're away from your primary residence.

As for the residents' musings about filing a class action lawsuit, they're more than free to do so, but as for getting the result they want, that might not be achievable. They could sue the mortgagor of the property, but it's hard to ascertain whether this was some calculated plan to financially benefit from the death of Page and Nadler. The mortgagors' only concerns would be if their client makes the mortgage payments; whatever issues that they were dealing wouldn’t have been in their purview. I think what people were actually saying was that they wanted to know if the Nadler's had life insurance. Life insurance would be the area where a beneficiary from their deaths would exist.

If you have questions of this nature, you should definitely attend the second meeting regarding the Hickory Drive explosion pertaining to your insurance issues and other services.

Hopefully things get settled sooner rather than later for the remaining 30 or so families who still cannot return to their homes.

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