An ongoing issue with rats in the Freshwater Road/Elizabeth Avenue area has lead the City of St. John’s to request the homeowner of a particular residence to clean up.
The area is on the border of two wards — one being Ward 2, represented by Coun. Jonathan Galgay, and the other being Ward 4, represented by Coun. Bernard Davis.
“Freshwater Road in particular, I’ve had a number of calls over a particular period of time that had concerns about properties in the area. In addition to the properties themselves, they’ve also complained about excessive amounts of garbage that have been in the rear of some of those properties,” said Galgay.
When asked for clarification on whether it was one property or several that was of concern, Galgay said it was just one.
“We identified that residence. We issued notice to our inspection division,” he said, adding that city inspectors are aware of the area and are keeping an eye on it.
Under such circumstances, the city issues a notice to the residential homeowner and gives them a certain period of time to clean up and have exterminators come in. The residence was given that notice last week, Galgay said.
“They will comply because we have measures put in place that we will do whatever is necessary to ensure that they’re held responsible,” he added.
Problem not recent
The issue with rats in the Freshwater Road neighbourhood appears to have been ongoing for some time. One resident who wished to remain anonymous said he started noticing rat activity the summer before last when his wife saw one run under their shed.
“I kept covering holes and then new holes would come up under the shed,” the resident said.
He also noticed fresh sign of rats throughout the winter in the snow. His next door neighbour has told him that he’s trapped a lot over the years.
“I was afraid, especially with my two kids. They’re so small and they’re outside, especially in the summer, a lot. Mice are one thing but rats are a danger to a small kid.”
The Telegram also learned that somebody else in the neighbourhood caught their 13th rat of the winter recently.
“It doesn’t surprise me,” Galgay said.
Galgay added there was a residence in Airport Heights in Davis’ ward to which the city issued a notice recently. Davis is out of town and wasn’t available for comment.
Ward 1 Coun. Danny Breen said there seems to be more rats around than ever as the city expands and undergoes construction.
“The rat problem itself is a pretty big issue in the east end,” he said. “We do get complaints. In fact I got one this morning from a resident in an area up off Paddy Dobbin Drive, where there was garbage around a house and the concern was rats again.”
Breen has been working with the city’s communication department and some residents on Hampshire Place off Carrick Drive to get some material to residents about what they can do to mitigate the rat issue. He’s hoping to have that out be early spring.
Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth said specific issues aside, there are reasons why the city as a whole could be seeing an increase in the presence of rats.
“This time of year we see rodent complaints increasing throughout the city,” he said.
Part of the reason for that has to do with the state of people’s lawn following the melting of snow, Ellsworth said.
There could be an excess of birdseed or other trash that was hidden all winter and is now exposed. Also, some pet owners have a winter’s worth of dog mess that will attract rodents if not cleaned up promptly in the spring.
The deputy mayor also added that we’re at the high end of the rodent cycle right now, meaning that numbers of rats in general are up.