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Bedbugs: Vancouver’s dark secret

The one-year countdown to the 2010 Winter Games has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean Vancouver is going to be able to shy away from the spotlight anytime soon.

The one-year countdown to the 2010 Winter Games has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean Vancouver is going to be able to shy away from the spotlight anytime soon.

The city is now on the radar of international media. In addition to stories about the Games’ local impact, you can bet that visiting journalists will be scoping out this region’s dark side, too.

Drug addiction, gang violence, and poverty in the Downtown Eastside will all be issues put forward. Here’s another: Bedbugs.

Nevermind the visiting reporters, locals are already making noise about them.

An old friend of mine, who recently moved here from southern Ontario, is a case in point. It turns out the downtown heritage apartment he and his partner had just rented two months ago is home to the stubborn pests.

Initially, he was only dealing with occasional bites — painless, but annoying.

But to drive out the bugs, his building’s landlord decided to bring in the fumigators. This, in turn, brought out some serious aggression from the critters — who one night showed their displeasure by making a meal of my pal’s arm.

To his credit, he has maintained his sense of humour — and his sanity — over the matter. But others affected can’t say the same.

Bedbugs are making life miserable for countless Metro Vancouver residents — from all walks of life. The critters are living large in social housing complexes, apartment buildings, and sometimes even posh hotels.

The provincial government has reported staggering increases in reportings over the past decade. And one website, bedbugregistry.com, lists nearly 400 buildings across the Lower Mainland that are impacted.
It’s not just Vancouver that is dealing with a bedbug crisis. Many cities are under siege.

A recent editorial in the New York Times prodded that city’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to pay closer attention to the growing issue in his metropolis.

New York’s lawmakers, noted the Times, must “press for better training … of exterminators, more public education about these pests, tougher standards for used furniture and a task force to figure out how to stay ahead of an army that seems to be growing every year.”

It’s an approach that should be equally embraced in Metro Vancouver. Better yet, it would leave an Olympic legacy that could help everyone sleep better at night.

 
 
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