Concerns about mice at a movie theatre in St. John’s are being addressed with increased pest control measures.
There were several complaints made during the summer on social media platforms, including on the Avalon Mall’s Facebook page.
Mall property manager Crombie REIT and a spokesperson for Cineplex both said thorough pest control measures are in place.
“In the early summer we did see an increase in activity at Scotiabank Theatre St. John’s,” Cineplex director of communications Sarah Van Lange said in an email.
“As a result, we worked with our third-party expert to increase our service to better manage it. We understand from the landlord that a few of (the) other tenants in the mall were experiencing similar issues and that the mouse problem earlier in the year could have been a result of all the development and construction in and around the area disturbing nests.
“Movie-lovers can rest assured that we continue to take this matter very seriously, that the theatre is safe and that we have taken a number of over-and-above measures to address and manage the issue.”
One social media user wrote on the Avalon Mall’s Facebook page in August that more money should be spent on exterminators “so I can bring my grandchildren to a movie without being traumatized. Disgusting.”
Another comment on the Avalon Mall’s Facebook page last month suggested theatre-goers should keep their food and purses on their laps, as the user said he “just went to a movie and the floor was crawling with mice.”
Service NL food premises inspection reports for the theatre indicate an increase in inspections beginning on May 16 “regarding complaint of increased rodent activity.”
A followup inspection on May 22 indicated there was “one sightening (sic) on weekend” and “one capture.”
Another inspection on May 30 found “no evidence of rodent droppings” while another on June 7 indicated “one rodent observed in trap” but “no evidence of droppings in the concessions/popcorn storage rooms.”
By June 20, an inspection notes “evidence of rodent droppings” in two locations and that the pest control program was “in critical mode” with daily pest control visits. The inspection indicated increased cleaning of the popcorn makers at night were “required.”
On Aug. 8 – the most recent follow-up inspection report posted on Service NL’s website – inspectors found a “small amount of suspect rodent droppings in a non-food-related area.” A small hole in the wall was also said to be repaired during the inspection.
The Aug. 8 visit also indicated Cineplex was taking further steps to decrease rodent activity, including replacing all doors to decrease gaps at the bottom and thoroughly cleaning the chairs.
“Any time a building is undergoing renovations, you’re kind of exposing it to the elements of the climate, and rodents and insects will definitely find a way in if you’re replacing windows, doors, or especially if you’re tearing the side out of the whole building.”
— Ken Pretty, branch manager at Cabot Pest Control
During that inspection, the report states, Cineplex “agreed to increase staff cleaners (daily).”
The final note for the Aug. 8 inspection indicates Cineplex met with mall personnel “regarding construction and what action will take place on their end.”
The Avalon Mall has undergone extensive renovations in recent months, including tearing out the side of the building where Sears was located, adding an extension near the theatre for entertainment restaurant chain The Rec Room, and exterior work on the parking lots.
Marcel Elliott, regional property manager for the Avalon Mall with Crombie REIT, said in an email that Crombie has contracts in place with leading national pest control companies to eliminate or deter any pest activity.
“Further, each tenant also has their own pest control contracts in place,” he said.
Elliott stated Crombie REIT acts according to recommendations made by pest control companies or local health authorities regarding pest control “to ensure that we meet or exceed all health-related requirements.”
“Avalon Mall is no different than any other commercial facility or institution in any city in that it does have exposure to unwanted pests,” Elliott wrote.
“We recognize that with our redevelopment and demolition, we have increased our exposure and therefore have increased all allowable efforts to rectify any situation over and above programs we already have in place.”
Renovations increase rodents
The Telegram spoke with Ken Pretty, branch manager at Cabot Pest Control.
Pretty said they do not have any pest control contracts with the Avalon Mall, so he could not comment specifically on the mall, but more generally about rodent activity.
“When there’s renovations going on, naturally you’re bound to see an increase in activity,” he said.
“Any time a building is undergoing renovations, you’re kind of exposing it to the elements of the climate, and rodents and insects will definitely find a way in if you’re replacing windows, doors, or especially if you’re tearing the side out of the whole building,” said Pretty.
“Even more so, if you’re renovating the property that’s around the building, if you’re tearing up parking lots or vegetation or riverbanks, or going near riverbanks and doing renovations, you can run into problems.”
In his emailed statement, Elliott said Crombie REIT always increases efforts with pest control providers as a “precautionary measure” when there is any sort of redevelopment or renovation on its properties.
Van Lange with Cineplex also said they “acted quickly to address the issue back in August,” adding they “continue to address it at a preventative level today.”
“At Cineplex, we have ongoing maintenance programs in place at all of our theatres across Canada – including Scotiabank Theatre St. John’s – and each one undergoes regular inspections by qualified third-party experts. We have these measures in place because the health and safety of our guests and staff is our number one priority.”