‘Ottawa’ Rat Watch: Council’s Rat Pack Sniffs Out Rodent Data
Allan Hubley and Mathieu Fleury make an unlikely rat pack.
One represents the suburban ward of Kanata South. The other represents the central Rideau-Vanier district.
Both councillors have the same worry about rodents roaming public property.
They came together on the floor of council Wednesday to file questions about the city’s efforts to reduce the rat population in Ottawa. Hubley had plans to enter the questions during the previous council meeting but didn’t want to upstage the mayor’s state of the city address.
According to Hubley, his role as audit committee chair compels him to request data on the rat population.
“It is very important we have benchmarks and ways we have success of our programs,” Hubley said.
“I think because of the public health perspective we need to know what that population is and if it’s growing or not.”
Ottawa Public Health said Thursday it investigated five rat-related complaints in 2016.
The complaints came from internal city departments, but the health unit also logs public complaints on general pest control issues at inspected facilities. For example, the health unit does regular inspections at restaurants, but the rat-related statistics for inspected facilities weren’t immediately available.
The health unit has a tip sheet ready to offer people who are having rat problems.
Get rid of food and water sources, wipe out hiding and living places, and close up cracks where rats can squeeze into a building.
When Hubley learned Fleury was interested in rat issues, too, they nailed down the joint inquiry Wednesday.
Fleury’s portion of the inquiry asks about rat control specifically in the public realm since there are apparently more rats being spotted in parks and on streets.
Rat complaints in central Ottawa aren’t uncommon, but why did a councillor from suburbia start sniffing around the issue?
“We’re not getting reports of rats running up and down the streets of Kanata,” Hubley said. “It’s because as councillors we have a citywide responsibility.”
There was one case of rats drawn to an over-capacity garbage at a Kanata strip mall, he said, but “we quickly dealt with that.”
Hubley’s main interest is in the city’s use of pesticides to attack rats, especially in sewers, and how a pesticide restriction has affected the rodent population.
It’s unclear if the city proactively spreads rat bait in sewers. The city said Thursday that it wouldn’t say either way until staff get back to the councillors’ written inquiries.
Exemptions in the 2004 corporate pesticide use policy for city property allow the city to use pesticides if “infrastructure” is involved or if the medical officer of health signs off.
Hubley said the information he’s collected about the city’s rat control efforts has come from sewer contractors who have suggested there has been a growth in the rat population because the city isn’t using pesticides.
When it comes to demanding the dirt on rats, Hubley believes he has the city by the tail.
“If they just try to whitewash over this, I’ll come back with a lot more questions,” he said.