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Downtown bed bug infestation nearly squashed

When it comes to the bed bug infestation at Christ the King Centre, a representative of the company managing the building says the situation is “85 or 90 per cent of where we want to be.
A Christ the King Centre resident provided this photo of the building's lounge, which has been roped off due to a bed bug infestation. Supplied photo.
When it comes to the bed bug infestation at Christ the King Centre, a representative of the company managing the building says the situation is “85 or 90 per cent of where we want to be.”

Bed bugs were first found at the 155-unit Elgin Street seniors' apartment complex six months ago.

“The health unit commended us in our efforts,” Jean LeBlanc, who works for Luxor Management Inc., which manages the building, said.

“They were saying to get to the same place, with other buildings it's taken them up to two and three years.”

He said there's currently only two units infested with bed bugs, which are small insects about the size of apple seeds which come out and bite at night.

At the height of the infestation, about four or five months ago, up to nine units in the building had the bugs at one time, LeBlanc said.

He said he's not sure how many units in total have had bed bugs over the last six months, but he doesn't think it was that widely-spread.
“I don't think it was an infestation throughout the building,” LeBlanc said.

More than $22,000 has been spent getting the bugs under control, he said. A pest control company has been spraying in the affected units.

“In some instances, you need a couple of applications, depending on the severity of the infestation,” he said.

Getting residents on side has been an upward battle, though, LeBlanc said.

Two residents ignored advice from the property managers which would have helped to control the bed bug problem, he said. But one of these residents has since moved, and the other has passed away.

“The one individual in particular reinfected his unit, and we sprayed nine times,” LeBlanc said. “That's the worst case.”

Other residents have been too embarrassed to report they have bed bugs, and have let the problem get worse, he said.

Advice given by the property managers includes washing all clothing in hot water or having it dry cleaned, and clearing out closets and cupboards so they can be inspected.

One resident told Northern Life she's spent so much money on laundry that she has no money for food, and would like to be reimbursed. LeBlanc, though, said he hasn't received any requests to reimburse laundry costs.

The property managers have also roped off common areas of the building, such as the lounge, to prevent the spread of the bugs. Residents have complained the building's sense of community has been ruined by this measure.

“We feel bad that they haven't got a common facility,” he said. “But their quality of life is going to be worse if the infestations continue as a result of it. What would you rather have?”

The plan is to get the outbreak under control, and then wait for 60 days, at which point common areas of the building would be reopened, LeBlanc said.

“Practically, we're looking at Feb. 1 as a target date,” he said.

The building's owner, Christ the King Parish (Sudbury) Development Corporation, is also looking at eventually renovating these common areas of the building, LeBlanc said.

Despite what a “very militant” and “exceptionally vocal” faction of Christ the King residents are saying, everything possible is being done to get the bed bug infestation under control, LeBlanc said.

“We're doing the most of what we can do, and throwing as many resources as we have at our disposal.”

Complaints rising
Burgess Hawkins, manager of environmental health with the Sudbury and District Health Unit, said the bed bug problem appears to be increasing in Greater Sudbury.

The health unit received 90 bed bug complaints so far this year, and just 50 last year. Of this year's complaints, health inspectors were able to find bed bugs at 46 residences. That's up from 33 last year.

But it's not just a local problem — bed bugs are on the rise around the world, he said. Hawkins said this is because of the chemicals currently used to deal with bed bugs.

“They were under control due to pesticides in use,” he said. “The pesticides that they used to allow, which of course were a little more harmful than what they allow now, are no longer in use. Therefore, you have a resurgence of them.”

Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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