Egan: LRT and rat packs – large trench sparks in Ostend


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Over the past year or two, residents of the East End have repeatedly complained about piles of rats suddenly popping up in backyards and gardens, with large light rail structures being fingered as the main instigator.

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Kelly Egan Luc Lacroix says he has caught about 40 rats on his property in the past three months. Luc Lacroix says he has caught about 40 rats on his property in the past three months. Photo by Errol McGihon /Mail media

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Talk about rats abandoning a sinking ship – even the dreaded rodents flee from LRT.

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Over the past year or two, residents of the East End have repeatedly complained about piles of rats suddenly popping up in backyards and gardens, with large light rail structures being fingered as the main instigator.

Orléans District Council. Matt Luloff said his office had received up to 100 complaints about rats over the past few years, summer and winter. (Across the city, complaints have more than doubled since 2019.)

While there’s no definitive evidence, he suspects that large-scale construction and excavation for the LRT’s eastern extension likely caused enough vibration and habitat changes to keep the rats moving.

The problem was so serious that Luloff and a senior site manager actually walked a street in Orléans Wood about three weeks ago. The goal was essentially to make the area rat-proof by examining shelter, food and water sources.

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(Bird feeders, for example, attract all types of rodents.)

Well, Matt Luloff, meet Luc Lacroix, 64, who lives one block from the Place d’Orléans shopping center.

Lacroix says he’s caught about 40 rats in the past three months, sometimes four or five in one night.

Lacroix has retired from working in the family’s furniture store and said he first noticed signs of problems in the summer when he discovered an almost perfect round hole at the bottom of a board in his wooden fence right next to the vegetable garden.

So in July he set up a couple of live traps baited with peanut butter or chocolate spread and added a game camera. Within a few days he caught six rats. Days could go by with nothing, then another bunch. There were also plenty of mice, he reports.

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Lacroix is ​​only about 200 meters south of the Queensway (the 174 in this area), where part of Stage 2 of the LRT is being built in the median between the east and west facing lanes. The 12-kilometer extension to the east will add five new stations between Blair and Trim streets and is scheduled to open in 2024.

But until then a terrible pile of earth will be moved, pipes laid and heavy machinery moved.

Lacroix believes the city should have launched a rat extermination attack before the excavations began.

“When you plan such a large project,” says Lacroix, who lives with his two grown children, “you know you will drive away hundreds or thousands of rats. You have to take care of them first before you send them into society. “

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If it just could be that easy. The rat packs have emerged unpredictably, with some infestations occurring more than two kilometers from any active construction.

Luloff said city crews “bait the sewers” when they hear of a problem area, otherwise all they can do is remind residents of precautions to take or promote better property standards.

(Rats don’t actually live in the sewers, they go there to drink, said the city council.)

There are three main things that attract rats, Luloff said: shelter, water, and food. The best defense is to remove possible hiding spots (piles of wood or bushes, for example), water sources (ponds, real or makeshift), and food (garbage or feeding grounds).

He sympathizes with local residents, but says the city can’t do much more, especially since a private contractor is doing the heavy lifting between the highway lanes.

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“The city is not in the wildlife mass destruction business,” he said. “I know some people like to feed wildlife, but if you attract birds or foxes or deer, you attract rats.”

Meanwhile, Lacroix says he has a phobia of rodents and cannot sleep in his house if he knew there were rats in it. He has done his best to seal the exterior of the house and intends to buy some more traps.

This has given him yet another reason to be skeptical of Ottawa’s battered light rail system, which is back on track after a 54-day lockdown due to a serious derailment near Tremblay Station.

“This O train. Oh my God … .”

Ottawa Public Health has a site that helps “control rats” at home. It starts with “Step One: Finding Evidence” and ends with “Step Five: Erasing”. For more in-depth reading:

(www.ottawapublichealth.ca/en/public-health-topics/rat-control.aspx).

And the complaints to the city are increasing sharply: from 417 in 2019 to 652 in 2020 to 929 this year so far.

So yeah, East End, it’s not your imagination … you smell something out there.

To contact Kelly Egan please call 613-291-6265 or email [email protected]
Twitter.com/kellyegancolumn

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