'Unfit and unsafe:' Mold, rodents and bed bugs prompt closure of St. Thomas, Ont. facility

An ongoing investigation that began in 2020 into the conditions at Walnut Manor supportive living facility in St. Thomas has led to a Section 13 order to have the home closed and the residents relocated. 

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

According to the investigation, the living conditions inside the home were deemed to be unfit and unsafe to live in.

“We identified extensive mold contamination within the building, we also identified a severe rodent infestation, bed bug infestation, and we also identified gross food contamination caused by the rodents,”’ says Haywood, who adds the closure is for the safety of the residents but also a chance for the owner to properly fix the issue.

“The purpose of the order is to ensure the safety of the residents at the Walnut Manor, and allow violations be addressed and remedied quickly with the least impact on human health.”

Walnut Manor resident Donald Andress spoke with CTV News after he was taken to the Joe Thornton Community Centre as a temporary shelter. “Basically they came in and told us we were kicked out, and then they shipped us over here."

“It’s a better place to live right now,” he says.

When Andress asked about the status of his belongings he was told, “they stay there, because of the bug infestation, bed bugs.”

“It wasn’t very nice, the meals weren’t very good, and conditions of the house were really run down,” adds Andress.

CTV News London contacted the company that runs the facility late Wednesday afternoon and was told that all the allegations the health unit has brought forward are untrue.

The company admits there was mold found in the basement and says they are rectifying that.

The spokesperson went on to say that the safety and well-being of all of the residents and staff is their number one priority.