‘Unfit and unsafe:’ Mildew, rodents and mattress bugs immediate closure of St. Thomas, Ont. facility

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LONDON, ONT. An ongoing investigation into conditions at the Walnut Manor assisted dormitory in St. Thomas, which began in 2020, has resulted in a Section 13 order to close the home and relocate residents.

“During a complaint investigation at Walnut Manor in St. Thomas, Southwestern Public Health identified public health violations that pose a significant risk to Walnut Manor residents,” said Peter Haywood, director of Southwestern Public Health.

According to the investigation, the living conditions in the apartment were considered unsuitable and unsafe.

“We have seen extensive mold contamination inside the building, we have also found severe rodent infestation, bed bug infestation, and severe food contamination caused by the rodents,” says Haywood, adding that the closure is for the safety of the residents but also an opportunity for the residents Owner to properly fix the problem.

“The purpose of the arrangement is to ensure the safety of the residents of Walnut Manor and to enable violations with the least impact on human health to be addressed and corrected quickly.”

Walnut Manor resident Donald Andress spoke to CTV News after being moved to the Joe Thornton Community Center for temporary accommodation. “Basically, they came in and told us we were kicked out, and then they sent us here.”

“It’s a better life now,” he says.

When Andress asked about the status of his belongings, he was told, “They’re staying there because of the insect infestation, bed bugs.”

“It wasn’t very nice, the food wasn’t very good, and the house was really shabby,” adds Andress.