Anita Place Tent City residents are coping with wet and cold weather, as well as rats.
“The rats have gotten so out of control here they have literally destroyed my tent, they have … all over everything,” Brett Singh Moffat said on the tent city’s Facebook page.
He said there are hundreds everywhere at the camp at the bottom of 223rd Street in downtown Maple Ridge, and that they munched through two bags of dog food in a few hours.
Camp organizer Tracy Scott said the problem is getting worse.
“The rats were here before we got here and now they’re multiplying.”
She said there are both regular rats and larger ones, possibly muskrats, that come up from the Fraser River.
She and a camp resident named A.J. said Monday night was particularly bad when they saw about 30 of them.
“As soon as dark hits, you step on them when you’re walking through here, that’s how many there are,” Scott said.
A.J. said he had his tent door partially closed recently and one still jumped over into his tent. He’s even set traps to try to catch the critters, baiting one with bread and peanut butter, only to have it skip out with the food, without being trapped.
He was thinking of trapping one and passing it to the pest control company to check for disease.
Scott said that another resident discovered a nest of baby rats in her clothes.
She added that the larger rats don’t seem afraid.
“When you throw something at them, they don’t even move.”
Rat traps have been set up throughout the camp, but it’s not certain if Fraser Health or B.C. Housing contracted a pest control company to set the traps.
Camp volunteer Bob Goos said he’s worried and will contact Fraser Health.
“We have a rat problem in Maple Ridge,” and the Lower Mainland.
“I can tell you, when I first started visiting there, I never saw a rat,” said Chris Bossley, another volunteer. “When I go down there now, I see them everywhere.”
When the property across 223rd Street was levelled for construction, she said many of the rats may have come over to the camp. Bossley said a pest control company was hired a month ago, but Scott said it has only shown up once.
“If you go down there with a flash light after dark, they’re everywhere,” Bossley said.
Andrea Coutts with B.C. Housing said it began providing regular pest control services to the camp in December 2017.
“Staff continue to work with the pest control company to address pest issues,” Coutts added.
“Orkin Pest Control attends the camp on a weekly basis, setting up and removing traps.”
Coutts said the pest control company uses best practices, including cleaning up garbage and clearing away clutter that could exacerbate the problem.
B.C. Housing staff are working closely with the campers, and has provided them with supports to address the rat population, including organizing a weekly clean-up day.
Fraser Health is on site to support the general health and wellness of the campers. Any questions about health concerns related to pests should be directed to Fraser Health, Coutts said.