London, Ont. business owner asks city to do more for downtown businesses

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In a chilling encounter, a downtown business owner calls on City Hall to do more to address drug use, homelessness and street culture in London, Ontario.

On Monday, a man walked into the Coffee Culture on Dundas Place and violently kicked the locked bathroom door while an employee was inside.

Owner Shane Kenneth says he and a friend ordered the man out, telling CTV News London: ‘I wasn’t going to let anyone into the bathroom with her, it’s just not not acceptable.”

The man began to undress in the cafe, so Kenneth escorted him outside where the situation escalated into violence.

“He punched me in the nose,” said Kenneth, whose nose was bloody. “That’s when the knife came out and he demanded his bike.”

Kenneth threw the bike and backpack at the man, and let him run away.

London police will later charge a 33-year-old man with assault with a weapon.

Kenneth says the situation is getting worse on Dundas Place for his family cafe and nearby businesses.

A petition started by some business owners along Richmond Row has already garnered 1,000 signatures calling on City Hall to do more to tackle homelessness.

London police are advising business owners who encounter a violent person in their shop to call 9-1-1 immediately “If you are in a situation where someone is in possession of a weapon, or if you think your safety is in danger, or someone else’s safety is in danger.”

Kenneth admits unpredictable incidents have had an emotional impact over the years, but he and his fellow merchants still have faith in the core.

“I told myself that 99.9% of the time, everything will be fine. There are people who come here who look tough, but some are the nicest you can meet,” he says.

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