Little is known about a man in his 20s whose body was found in a Central Saanich recycling facility on Nov. 12.
“Normally, when a death happens within the [homeless] community that we serve at Our Place, we hear rumblings from people, and haven’t really heard anything from the people here,” said Grant McKenzie, director of communications for Our Place Society. “So we don’t have any details about what his life was like or why he was in the recycling bin.”
This absence of information starts with the person’s name, age and the official cause of death after workers with Waste Connections Canada found him after a recycling truck had returned to Central Saanich from Victoria.
“Our investigation does involve a man in his 20s,” said Andy Watson, manager of strategic communications with the BC Coroners Service. “He is from Victoria. Due to the privacy of the deceased, obviously we do not release or confirm identity.”
When asked about the official cause of death, Watson said it would be premature for any agency to comment until the coroners investigation is completed. “We are the agency that is responsible for determining cause of death, but it is too early in our investigative process to be able to provide information on that,” Watson said. “Obviously, more information needs to be gathered.”
Watson said his office does not speculate about the timing of the investigation given the variety of factors that come into play. “Certainly there is a lot of public interest in this one, and we are aware of that,” he said. “But we will take the time necessary to determine how, where, when and by what means this man came to his sudden and unexpected death. Obviously, our thoughts are with the family.”
Watson also could not comment on any parallels between this case and the death of man found dead Aug. 1., 2018 in Victoria after an accident involving a garbage truck from Waste Connections Canada. “It’s still too early in our investigative process,” he said.
McKenzie said it is not common for homeless individuals to use recycling bins as temporary shelter. “But there is a distinct shortage of any shelter space at all,” he said. “So a recycling bin would obviously be an insulated, warm, comfortable place to be.”
McKenzie said he would like to see additional safety measures to prevent comparable incidents, while acknowledging their limits.
“It’s a little bit like if you lock the doors of your cars, the chance of a break-in is less,” he said. “If you lock the bins, the chance of somebody being in there is less.” This said, somebody determined to get into a recycling bin will find ways to get in.
Watson said his office has the power to make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths in similar circumstances. “But I will not at this time be able to speculate on what those recommendations could look like,” he said.
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