Reports have increased within Southern Ontario regarding rats in homes over the last several months, and St. Catharines City Council wants to do something about it.
Last September, actions were taken by Niagara’s health department and municipal staff from communities throughout the region to try to combat the issue, but they were unsuccessful. Several residents across the Niagara Region have had to make rat calls. Home owners have been frustrated, doing everything they can to prevent rats from being on their properties and in their homes – including moving bird feeders, cleaning out compost, and cutting down trees – with no improvements. Residents have also reported unsuccessful attempts to get rid of rats through common solutions such as traps and poison.
Port Dalhousie Councilor Carlos Garcia mentioned that he and other council members have personally received calls about the issue, hearing reports of residents dealing with up to 14 rats in their homes.
Rats breed very quickly, which is a large part of the difficulty in controlling their population in the city. A pest control company told Merritton Councillor Jennie Stevens, who has received similar complaints as Garcia, that for every rat burrow found, there could be up to 12 others. It is possible that warmer winters over the last several years have contributed to the increase in rat population. In 2016, St. Catharines warned residents of a possible rat infestation at the old GM plant on Ontario Street, which also caused an increase of rats in people’s homes.
St. Catharines council presented a motion last week, declaring the rat infestation a “citywide emergency,” to Niagara Region authorities, hoping to put in motion a plan of attack for the problem. The vote was 8-2; a staff report will be brought forward at the next council meeting on March 5, presenting possible solutions for the issue.
St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik was hesitant about the plan, however, and voted against the motion. He wanted to be careful about where the attention is focussed, commenting that other rodents can be just as harmful as rats and pose just as much of a problem to the Region.