Codiac Regional RCMP says the body of a man with no fixed address was found inside a public washroom steps from Moncton City Hall just after midnight Tuesday.
Police didn’t give a cause of death, but did say foul play is not suspected.
The City of Moncton says it is aware of the death.
Father Chris VanBuskirk of St. George’s Anglican Church in Moncton, N.B., called the death a tragedy.
“We knew this person and had followed with him, as with a lot of the agencies downtown, in his personal struggles,” said VanBuskirk.
Roughly eight hours earlier, VanBuskirk and Trevor Goodwin of the Greater Moncton YMCA made a plea to city council about the need for a third shelter for the 556 people currently living on the streets.
VanBuskirk used his church as a cold shelter last year, but told CTV News in September that wouldn’t happen this year.
However, he changed his mind and on Monday night, he let around 35 to 40 people stay overnight.
VanBuskirk is worried about the morale of the homeless population with the temperature dropping and the number of overdose deaths rising.
Goodwin said over 25 homeless people have died in Moncton, N.B., this year — many by overdose.
Twenty-eight-year-old Rebecca Watson, who has been living on the street for four years, has no place to stay and no idea where she’ll go.
“No one cares anymore; they’re so tired of this. They’re in so much pain inside because they feel there’s no one who cares about them… but these are my friends dying. These are my family dying,” said Watson.
Fraser Hennessey said he knew the person who died at city hall.
“That might be me next,” said Hennessey.
The homeless man was asked if some people use drugs to get through the night when it’s cold.
“It’s a Band-Aid. I don’t want to feel no more. I’m sick and tired of being hurt, being told everything is going to be OK. It isn’t OK,” he said.
Timothy Bonnema said there is a comfort in taking drugs to get through cold nights.
“When you smoke that meth you feel warm, you don’t feel the cold as bad. A lot of people who would have never touched that stuff are doing it now and they’re addicted because they just wanted to feel warm,” said Bonnema.
The Moncton Fire Department responded to 11 overdose calls on Monday, three more than the daily average. Two of them were at Ensemble Greater Moncton — a downtown overdose protection site.
Ensemble Executive Director Debbie Warren said they service people who are very sick.
“They are sick people and so that results in overdoses. And because they are not housed, for a large number of them, it is an even greater risk of dying because they are not where there is Naloxone and first responders to reverse it,” said Warren.
Department of Social Development spokesperson Rebecca Howland told CTV News in an email details are still being finalized for extreme weather measures across the province.
“We understand the urgent need for supports like this and are working with several partners to complete the details as soon as possible,” said Howland.
In October, the province announced an $8 million investment over the next three years in an effort to reduce homelessness and to better support emergency shelters.
Howland noted there are nine emergency shelters in New Brunswick that provide 274 beds for those in need. Those shelters include the House of Nazareth, Harvest House, and Crossroads for Women in Moncton.
“The extreme weather plan is to add beds dedicated to extreme weather conditions,” said Howland.
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