Homeless man dies of overdose in city porta-potty
LONDON, ONT. -- The City of London has confirmed that a man died Thursday afternoon after overdosing in a portable toilet located at a tent city.
Craig Cooper, who heads up homeless prevention for the city, confirms to CTV News that the man, in his 30s, was found unresponsive in the comfort station located at the homeless encampment site on Bathurst Street behind the Salvation Army Centre of Hope.
Cooper said the city is sending out condolences to the man’s family, and to those who knew him, including the city staffers within the social services department.
Cooper also pointed out that the city already had its hands full dealing with the opioid crisis before the pandemic.
“People are using in tents, they’re using in stairwells, they’re using in alleyways and all that sort of stuff. We recognize that we’re in a crisis within our community and the risk was always there in the comfort stations. But I don’t think in this case the comfort station was the reason for this.”
The portable toilets are part of city hall’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically to offer bathrooms and hand-washing facilities for Londoners living on the streets, now that restaurants and other sites are closed.
Middlesex London Medical Officer of Health Dr. Chris Mackie on Friday conceded there was always a risk, but it was a measure taken under unusual circumstances.
“Overdoses are one of those things, risks that are very hard to mitigate in a tent city,” said Mackie. “Very unfortunate to see this overdose happen. But it’s also a situation where you are operating outside the system.”
London Mayor Ed Holder added “I'm not sure if there was anything that could have been done for this situation. But it doesn’t remove any of the sadness associated with the event.”
The man’s identity has not been released.