Windsor councillor asks for rat removal plan with 'more teeth'
Windsor has long been dubbed as one of the nation’s ‘ratiest’ cities by Orkin Canada. But despite city programs to curb the rat population, the problem persists in many neighbourhoods.
West end resident Rick Hobbs knows first-hand just how rampant the rats are.
“The rats are coming out of the woodwork. They’re comin’ from everywhere. Tons of ‘em,” Hobbs says.
He’s set traps, secured his home and inspected for burrows, but Hobbs has come to realize the rats aren’t coming from his yard.
”They’re getting pretty bold. I’ve got empty traps and I’m still catching them. I don’t know what else to do,” says Hobbs.
The City of Windsor has a rat abatement program, where homeowners with rat burrows on their property can call the city, which will bait them with poison for free.
But if your neighbour has a burrow, it’s a different story.
“Ultimately they have to consent to the rat abatement program the city has,” says Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante. “If that neighbour doesn’t want to use the rat abatement program, there becomes a problem because you can’t force them to use it.”
Coun. Costante wants to close that loophole by creating a city-wide bylaw giving bylaw officers the ability to issue orders to property owners where rats propagate.
“If the property owner fails to do so, there could be a penalty regime in place that further encourages them to access these programs,” Costante says.
Costante successfully passed a motion at Monday’s council meeting, directing administration to draft an enforcement and penalty scheme with bigger teeth. In essence, he wants a report back detailing how the city can force property owners to either take the bait, or pay a fine.
“Those who are taking care of their properties shouldn’t be punished because their neighbour or an absentee landlord is neglecting theirs,” says Costante.
According to the city’s environmental services manager, 1,500 homeowners are currently having their properties baited, which is on par with recent years.
Costante says the city’s legal department will likely have the most to say about any new, enhanced policy being brought to council.
Ideally, Costante envisions a system where a neighbour could simply call 311, report a rat borrow in a neighbouring property, and wait for city bylaw to arrive.
Hobbs welcomes the idea, calling it long overdue.
“There’s too many of ‘em. Way too many of ‘em,” Hobbs says. “If they come on my yard, I want ‘em dead. That’s the only way I want them on my yard.”
The report is expected back before council in the new year.