When forested land was cleared at 276 Street and 28 Avenue in Aldergrove to make way for the Bertrand Creek housing development, residents in the area saw an influx of new, unwelcome neighbours: rats.
According to a February letter to the Township from the Bertrand Creek Enhancement Society, “… once the trees in the ‘Creekside Forest’ were cut down and the ground was excavated, hordes of rats lost their home and have taken over the neighbouring yards and garden sheds where before there were none.
“This property had been owned by the Township and nothing was done to eliminate the rats before the property was sold and thus the neighbours now have a huge problem. If the Township had a more aggressive rat strategy that would not have occurred.”
One Aldergrove resident, Dianne Kask, says she has tried to contact the Township about the issue, only to be told she must instead call Fraser Health. When she contacts Fraser Health, she is told she has to talk to the Township.
Although both the Township and Fraser Health websites list guidelines for keeping rodents at bay, if neighbours do not follow the same strategies, the problem will continue.
Frustrated, Kask brought the issue to council on May 29, asking that they adopt policies similar to what other municipalities like Delta and Maple Ridge use to control rat populations. In particular, she would like to see pest control become a mandatory part of all house demolitions, along with the launch of an education campaign to help the public understand how to prevent the issue from spreading.
Kask says rats are “not just a dirty inconvenience.” They also spread disease and destroy property, such as electrical wires in vehicles. She cites a recent case in Tsawwassen, where a park was shut down due to leptospirosis, a disease spread by rat urine, that can transfer to wildlife, pets and even humans.
“In Langley, a large house that had been condemned was torn down and neighbours saw rats running from it into the surrounding neighbourhood,” she said. “If Langley had a similar requirement (to other municipalities), the neighbourhood would not have had to deal with this influx of rats.”
Kask says her neighbour across the street has caught as many as 52 rats in just one month, and the pest control company she uses for her property has killed hundreds over the last three years.
“It’s a real problem,” she said. “I know people in different parts of Langley, different parts of the Lower Mainland, and I think the only way that we’re going to make a dent is if there’s a widespread campaign, and the Township takes some sweeping measures.”
At the end of the meeting, council unanimously voted to send Kask’s delegation to staff for follow-up.