Bed bugs continue to plague Ridge apartment

Kim Aeichele and her son Dakota, 16, have lived at the Sorrento for nine years. - Colleen Flanagan
Kim Aeichele and her son Dakota, 16, have lived at the Sorrento for nine years.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan

Bed bugs are still plaguing the Sorrento Apartments in Maple Ridge and residents there want the building’s management to do something about it.

Julianna Colonna moved into the apartment building nearly a month ago with her 13-month-old daughter Sophia and three-month-old son Isaiah.

Colonna said she wasn’t told the building had a history of bed bugs when she went to rent her suite. When it came time to move in, she says the carpets weren’t cleaned and the unit was a mess.

“You could tell the place had just been abandoned,” she said.

Within days of moving in, she says her children began to get bug bites. At first, Julianna thought it might be chicken pox, but soon found bed bugs in the crevice of her mattress.

Julianna’s mom Julia is livid her daughter wasn’t warned about the bed bugs.

“Who in their right mind would rent this suite to a single mom with two kids,” she said.

Kim Aeichele has lived at the Sorrento Apartments for nine years with her 16-year-old son Dakota and says bed bugs showed up in her unit two months ago.

Aeichele is on disability for fibromyalgia and arthritis, and said she has had to sleep with her pants tucked into her socks to avoid bites.

“I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in two months,” she said.

She wants the building’s property management company, Amacon, to fumigate the building from top to bottom.

“They fumigated all the units around me, so the bed bugs had to go somewhere, so they came here,” she said. “The last two months have been hell.”

David Sutherland, vice-president of residential properties for Amacon, which manages the Sorrento Apartments, as well as the Sunrise Apartments next door, said his company has spent more than $30,000 to spray the buildings in recent months.

“It’s swept through both buildings like a plague,” he said of the bed bugs.

Sutherland believed recent eradication efforts had eliminated the pest from the buildings, and was unaware of the current bed bug issues.

“We will be distributing a notice to tenants asking them if they have any bed bug issues, and will send out pest control if there’s a problem,” he said. “If this is still an issue, we’ll take care of it.”

Sutherland blames the bed bug problem in the building on low-income residents who have grabbed used or discarded furniture from off the street and elsewhere in the community, and brought it into their units.

Sutherland said the company has also spent $2,500 on a metal cage to protect the building’s garbage bin, to prevent people from grabbing infested furniture.

“It’s in our best interest to make sure there’s no bed bugs in our buildings,” he said. “No one wants to rent in an apartment with bed bugs.”

Serrina Green, a single mother with two kids living in the Sorrento Apartments, said her unit is bed bug-free at the moment, but is worried it could become infested.

“We can’t afford to replace all our belongings,” she said.

While some residents in the building want the District of Maple Ridge to step in, bylaws manager Liz Holitzki said the city’s building maintenance bylaws do not cover bed bugs.

“The bylaw refers only to the structure of the building, not the cleanliness or condition,” she said.

Bed bugs range in size from near microscopic to the head of a pin, and can live and breed in the smallest of crevices. They feed on human blood and are notoriously difficult to kill.

Any furniture that has been infested with bed bugs needs to sealed and disposed of properly to prevent any further spread, according to Peter Steinfort, owner of Care Pest and Wildlife Control.

Bed bugs like environmental conditions similar to humans, especially dark, humid areas, and can be found just about anywhere where there are people. They are nocturnal and attracted to body heat and exhaled carbon dioxide.

Tell-tale signs of bed bugs are dark brown or black fecal staining on mattresses, blood staining on sheets, and dead bed bugs themselves.

To kill bed bugs, there are a variety of chemical, and non-chemical solutions available.

Thermal remediation has proven to be particularly effective, and involves no chemicals. With this method, an apartment is sealed and heaters placed throughout to heat the apartment past the bed bugs’ thermal kill point of 50 C.

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