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Council moves to deal with gnawing issue of rats

Council has moved to start tracking complaints related to rats in an effort to identify problem areas and make better informed future spending decisions.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

They’re coming from all across the city and they’re multiplying quickly.

In recent weeks, the complaints regarding rats and rodents invading people’s homes have flooded into city hall, and now council is moving ahead with measures to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.

Following approval from council during its regular meeting on Oct. 16, Service Oshawa will begin tracking complaints related to rats in order to establish problem areas. A public service announcement will be distributed as part of a newly minted communications plan to advise residents of how to deal with dead rats as well as rodent-proofing their homes, along with the possibility of some money being put aside in the 2018 budget to develop a program to help residents with significant rat issues.

The motion, originally brought forward by Councillor Amy McQuaid-England, couldn’t have come at a better time, she says as the cold winter months approach and rats begin to seek shelter. She was also glad the data would now be tracked in order to inform future council decisions.

“I’ve been inundated with calls and inundated with emails and Facebook messages from people all across the city,” she said. “This is happening all around and we need to realize with the increased construction, which we are all about it, it is displaced these animals from their underground habitats.”

Mayor John Henry was also happy to see that data was going to start be collected in order to better inform the issue in the future.

“Tracking is good, the person who has the most data wins,” he says. “We do have some places in town that they think it’s just fair game to throw their garbage in the backyard and that’s not right either, so we’re dealing with that as well.

Moving forward, the mayor was uncertain what kind of funds would be allocated in the 2018 budget, if any, toward developing a program.

“Dealing with a couple of the other pieces, there could be a small impact on the budget, but I don’t know how much money yet.”

Previously speaking with The Oshawa Express, Mike Gray, the owner of Pro-X Services Pest Control, said in his more than 20 years in the business he hasn’t seen anything like this before.

“I would say the first 20 years, you could count the number of rat jobs I did on two hands, maybe 10 jobs,” he previously told The Express. “In the past year, I have done close to, I’m going to say, 50 different accounts in Oshawa alone.

For Gray, he explained that there are a number of different factors that could be playing into the increase in the number of rodents chewing into Oshawa homes, including the boom in development across the city, as well as the milder winters in recent years and this summer’s heavy rainfall. Gray also says that rats tend to proliferate in lower income areas where the lack of upkeep in and around the home can create prime habitat for rats.

“With increased population in Durham Region, significantly in the past year, plus construction, plus everything adding together, it’s causing these rats to scatter to areas where normal behaviour hasn’t been and they’re thriving,” he says.