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Friday, September 2, 2011

Editorial: Mayor’s call for bed- bug strategy needs to be adopted by council

Editorial: Mayor’s call for bed- bug strategy needs to be adopted by council

By Rod Hilts

Updated 2 hours ago
Sarnia mayor's call to action for the county to develop a strategy to deal with a growing bed bug infestation in Sarnia-Lambton is long overdue.
In his letter this week to Warden Steve Arnold and members of County Council, Mayor Bradley requested that county staff report their strategy to council on how they deal with bed bugs at County-owned facilities. He has also asked that Community Health Services report back on what other health services are doing in Canada, beyond education and information, to assist people who are the most vulnerable for financial and social reasons with infestations of bed bugs.
It's hard to imagine how this kind of infestation could completely uproot your life. The County of Lambton has 1,100 housing units providing shelter for those in need. Th e mayor's call for a policy to protect our most vulnerable members of our society is needed.
But the problem in our community goes beyond protection of tenants in county-owned facilities. Who is going to bat for tenants in privately-owned apartments who are battling infestations but getting little to no help from their landlords?
This newspaper has received a number of inquiries from out-of-town parents of college kids looking for a place to live and wondering which areas are safe from the infestations? Our reporters have tried public health officials and local police but they have not received any answers. Privacy legislation is usually cited as to why we can't get answers to our questions, however, who is looking out for the public on this public health issue?
Sadly, the story on just how bad the infestation has grown came to us from a Sarnia Police news release a few weeks ago. Police responded to a medical assist in the city and helped a man with health problems emerge from his apartment literally covered in bed bugs. Shocked EMS and police personnel had to take special precautions working on the scene as to not bring the infestation back to the station and home. The problem is more than just what emergency personnel had to deal with at the scene. What happened to that individual once he was released from hospital. Was his apartment infestation handled or did he have no choice but to go back into living in the horrible situation?
Bed bugs don't know about any social lines and don't care what home or apartment they infest. Rich or poor can have their homes infested. Increased travel by people and limited pesticide use has lead to a population explosion of these pests.
Perhaps if members of our elected councils had to personally deal with a bed bug infestation, the mayor's two-prong strategy would be put into place much faster. Time will tell how council reacts to the mayor's proposal.


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