Bed bugs bother Maple Ridge tenant

Lisa Yelds balcony is filled with the contents of her apartment as it is fumigated for bed bugs. - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Lisa Yelds balcony is filled with the contents of her apartment as it is fumigated for bed bugs.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

The district should clamp down on scrap furniture left at roadside so bedbugs don’t get a toehold in Maple Ridge, says a tenant who’s going to have to shell out a couple hundred dollars to get rid of the critters who’ve set up home in her apartment.

“The laundry is killing me,” said Lisa Yelds.

Since she found bedbugs in her 122nd Avenue apartment a few weeks ago, she’s spent  about $120 in laundry bills, washing and drying her clothes at high temperatures.

“And there’s more to do.”

But that’s only the start of her expenses for the woman who makes about $1,105 a month on disability income.

“On top of that, I will lose pretty well all my furniture that has upholstery on it and the ministry does not replace furniture. So it’s made it kind of hard.”

Yelds is on disability income. She has hepatitis C, degenerative arthritis in her spine, osteoporosis and osteo-arthritis, as well as peripheral neuropathy, which causes burning in the nerves in the back of her legs.

“It’s like somebody’s got a blow torch and you can’t make it go away.”

She’s going to have replace her bed as well, even though she still could use the latter if it was wrapped in plastic for a year.

“Do you want to sleep on it with a bunch of dead stuff in it?”

She’s also leery about buying second-hand furniture from a thrift store. Instead, she wants to spray it and get it hauled away.

“If one egg hatches and it’s a female, I’m doomed.”

Yelds, who’s lived in the building for almost five years, found out she had bed bugs two weeks ago while a friend was visiting.

“He got up, with a flashlight, and there was over 30 of them on the pillow. They said that I’ve had them in my suite now – for over a year.”

But the bugs hadn’t bothered her so far because she has skin grafts on her arms and can’t feel the bites. And not everybody reacts to their saliva.

“So you can have them a really long time and not know it.”

So far, her landlord is responding, which Yelds appreciates. Her apartment has had two all-day treatments, with two more to go, one each week, and it’s costing the landlord about $800, she added.

She’s heard that the Ministry of Children and Family Development could provide a used bed, though she’s not sure how long that will take. She’s also leery about getting old furniture from thrift stores.

She’d like the District of Maple Ridge to ban leaving any furniture at roadsides or back alleys.

“A lot of times you see discarded couches and beds all over Maple Ridge and 10 to one it’s infested.

“A lot of your homeless people that go out to the dumpsters and stuff, and just take stuff away. Their stuff is just loaded with bedbugs. And a lot of landlords out in Maple Ridge don’t lock up their garbage.

“They take it in the building, it’s loaded. It’s not a very nice problem.”

However, bylaws director Liz Holitzky said the district doesn’t allow old furniture to be left outside. The owners has to take them to the dump or risk fines of $100 a day under the untidy and unsightly premises bylaw.

Once notified, property owners have three days to get rid of the junk.

However, if furniture is dumped on public streets or sidewalks, municipal crews try to haul it away as soon as possible.

But that doesn’t happen often and it’s the first instance she’s heard of a bedbug problem, she added.

If the district learns who dumped the furniture, it can also issue fines.

So far, Yelds’ suite is the only one in her building that’s infested, although she says three suites in the building next door have them, too.

• Learn more about bedbugs at HealthLink B.C.


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