Rodent-control plan to go before Falls council

Article originally sourced from Niagra Falls Review

"City council will consider setting aside $50,000 in its 2018 budget to deal with a rat problem in Niagara Falls.

Politicians will also consider approving a residential rodent control rebate program, with a maximum eligible rebate for the services of a licensed pest-control expert of $200 per residential property per calendar year.

If supported, city staff will monitor the issue and report back on the program at the end of the year.

At the Jan. 9 meeting, council directed staff to provide an update report on the rat problem and future steps to deal with the matter.

According to a staff report scheduled to go before council Tuesday evening, rats are common in urban areas such as Niagara Falls.

In recent years, many different health departments across the province have been overwhelmed with the number of rat sightings.

Rats and mice are carriers of disease and can cause damage to homes and property.

In the report, staff states setting aside $50,000 in the budget will be offset by a transfer from reserves until the program can be evaluated after the initial pilot stage.

If approved, the program will begin April 9.

Statistics gathered by the city’s municipal works department indicate rat complaints and/or sightings have risen from 135 in 2016 to 185 in 2017.

There have been 14 calls as of Jan. 31.

Staff said these figures may not include those who have directly contacted Niagara Region or a pest-control expert.

Staff said the city will respond to residents experiencing rat sightings within their yard.

Public health addresses reported concerns of rats found within the interior of the home.

Staff’s report states effective rodent control requires a co-ordinated and co-operative effort between homeowners, public health and city staff.

Given that rodent infestation may not be created by the property affected, homeowners are faced with the cost for the extermination.

The city will provide education and outreach to residents and stakeholders to enhance awareness and knowledge in the identification, prevention and control of rodent infestation.

This information will be delivered through bulletins and guidelines advising homeowners to monitor their property for possible evidence of rodents; improve sanitation and eliminate nesting sites; prevent rodents from entering their home; eliminate food source; use effective traps; and how to hire a professional for the extermination.

The information will be posted on the city’s website with the appropriate municipal contact information for complaints, advice and program details.

The city’s municipal enforcement clerk will accept all rodent complaints, which will be logged into a database and assigned to an officer to inspect the site and validate the existence of rodents.

If the officer discovers rodents do exist at the complainant property, the officer will issue a report indicating the existence of rodents, at which time the complainant can apply for a one-time residential rebate program to assist in the cost for the extermination of the rodents.

The officer will further investigate adjacent properties that could be a possible cause to the rodent infestation, such as garbage, wood piling and debris.

If adjacent properties are in contravention of the property standards bylaw, the officer will issue an order to any adjacent homeowner identified as contributing to the rodent problem and ordering them to remove the infraction.

All reports, evidence and data will be filed and communicated to the municipal works department for mapping and analyzing at a larger scale to determine if a greater problem exists beyond single property causation, such as new construction sites, sewer infestation or other disturbed lands.

This will be reported to council annually.

Staff said the city will continue to bait sewers when it’s appropriate to do so.

Sewer baiting is scheduled on a case-by-case basis and after any property standards issue has been investigated.

Staff said it makes sense to bait sewers only when rats are actually living in the sewers to be effective in reducing the rat population.

Typically, sewers are not a preferred habitat for rats.

Staff said only two other Ontario municipalities were found to offer rat-control programs for residential exterior properties — Windsor and Sault Ste. Marie.

Both issued a tender/request for proposal for the supply of rodent control to the exterior of residential private properties.

Due to budget restraints in 2018, the Sault Ste. Marie program was discontinued after one year.

Windsor has a current three-year contract expiring Mar. 31, 2020.

Coun. Wayne Thomson, who has been vocal about the rat problem and called for staff to investigate the issue, said this is not the first time such a plan has been put together.

“When I was mayor we had such a rat problem that it was uncontrollable — the complaints and the people who were being adversely effected just became overwhelming,” he said.

“At that particular time, I think we put exactly the same amount of money in the budget because people were not looking after the situation on their own properties and effecting other properties adversely because they wouldn’t spend the money.”

Fast forward to today, Thomson said the city is “overwhelmed with them again.”

“Part of the problem is with a lot of the development going on,” he said.

Although he has a “completely” fenced in property and doesn’t know how they could get in, Thomson said he’s noticing rats on his yard.

“I had never seen a rat on my property before, but recently my wife, looking out the backyard, said, ‘what’s that running across our yard?’ I thought, ‘Oh my God, it’s a rat.’”

Thomson said he bought two traps and caught three rats in two days.

“Since then I’ve been waiting to put them out again because there’s certainly more there but with the snow the cheese and the peanut butter, whatever you put on it, freezes and it just doesn’t work.”"


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