Niagara Falls residents who have rodent problems can now take advantage of an exterminator at the city's expense.
On Tuesday, city council passed a motion allowing city residents to refund up to $200 in exterminator costs.
The decision comes after a week that’s seen rats be the subject of discussion at councils around the region, namely Niagara Falls and St. Catharines.
In both communities, residents say they’re dealing with overwhelming rat problems, largely caused by development.
It’s humiliating, said Niagara Falls resident Bill Chase, who lives by Optimist Park, as he addressed council members on Tuesday about the rodent issue.
“Believe me, it is very embarrassing for me to come down and stand here on camera and talk about rats in my property and my neighbourhood, as it is for everyone else.” he said, addressing council members at Tuesday’s meeting.
“(Optimist Park) was a beautiful park, and as soon as development started, that’s when we started seeing rats.”
“We never ever had a rat problem in our neighbourhood,” Chase said.
Now, checking and setting traps and disposing of dead rats has become a daily routine for him.
“It’s not just in my area, it’s Stamford Centre, it’s all over,” said Chase.
“Maybe before a developer starts they need to put some pesticide down before they start developing the land,” said Chase.
Niagara Falls Coun. Wayne Thomson moved the motion to support the funding to address the problem, currently up to $50,000, though that number will be tracked to find out if there is more money needed.
“I think that's a great initial solution to the problem. We can examine it each year at budget time and determine whether it's necessary,” Thomson said.
The choice of exterminator will be left to the home owner.
Thomson said the city of St. Catharines can take a lesson from Niagara Falls in how it handles its own rat problem.
He said he expects the problem to get worse with the warmer weather, and that people should be aware what they should be doing with respect to rodents on their property.
“If you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re going to have a very persistent problem.”
Mayor Jim Diodati said the rat problem is not limited to Niagara Falls and St. Catharines, but is region-wide and that councillors from the whole region stood up to talk about the issue when he addressed it at the Region.
“It's like lyme disease. It's everywhere it seems,” Diodati said.
A second speaker was set to address council about the rat issue, but did not attend.
“Maybe the rats got him,” said Diodati. “Hopefully not.”