Bedbugs: “It is maddening!” | Metropolis Information

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A war is raging in Montreal: not a war on drugs; no war on cars; no war on pollution; but it’s a war, and the soldiers are tiny, vicious, and relentless.

In the midst of arguably one of the worst housing crises in Montreal in recent times, a team of seniors, artists and activists are fighting against the Montreal scourge, Cimex lectularius, the humble and much despised bug.

Only a few months until the election next November, the artist and long-time supporter Hana Benveniste and her group of Chevaliers de l’espoir want to make seniors aware of their plight in a Hochelaga-Maisonneuve residential project with low incomes before the decision-makers in the Office Municipale d’habitation de Montréal (OMHM) and in the Montreal City Hall.

“As an artist, I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with really interesting and spirited seniors over the past ten months, who are fed up with it,” she says, working on a project with the non-profit organization Engrenage Noir and master’s student of social work, Marilou Bissonnette and address bed bugs through art and activism.

Montreal has had a bed bug problem for a decade, and if you’ve ever been unlucky enough to make it through the ordeal, you know it’s not a picnic. It’s actually a picnic, even a buffet for the pests – with some of the most vulnerable Montreals on the menu.

“The OMHM spent millions addressing this problem, but they are repeating the same process over and over,” Benveniste told The Suburban. “Fumigate, wait a few months and fumigate again. The cost is enormous and not only in dollars for the city but also for the welfare of the people who live there. These are elderly people, vulnerable, many have physical disabilities, psychological problems, some have addiction problems and it plays with their minds. “

Benveniste speaks of seniors who sleep in bathtubs or on their balconies to avoid being bitten, wake up with bites and remain in a hypervigilant state, experiencing incredible mental exertion. “It’s pretty traumatic,” she says. “It results in fights between neighbors and people becoming more isolated and CLSC home services being canceled because the workers don’t want to risk being contaminated … It’s a cascading problem: people keep coming up against it while promised to that things will happen to get better. “

It is often said that you can laugh or cry when things are bad. Well, they’ve cried a lot and are now trying to laugh, but it’s no joke: the group designed and printed hundreds of cheeky postcards to hand out to residents and other Montreal residents to give to OMHM officials, Mayor Valérie Plante and Mercier- The Mayor of Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Pierre Lessard-Blais, called for action and invited them to meet with us in person to discuss and analyze the situation and maybe come up with a new approach.

And yes, says Benveniste, there are other ways to use more reputable firms instead of just placing contracts with the lowest bidders and providing accessible spaces for seniors to go to when they need to go for fumigation. “You have people in walkers. Where do you go in winter when you have to go? Can you imagine what it was like during the pandemic? “

Regular checks should be the rule, not just once a year, “and exterminators should have experience and understand not only bed bugs in residential situations, but also work in large buildings and with people who may face multiple barriers.”

“We want to raise awareness. You spend millions saying you do all you can but you don’t live there. It drives you crazy. “

Montreal’s additional law on the hygiene, maintenance and safety of residential units includes:

Eliminate the presence of bed bugs, as well as the conditions that contribute to their spread, and have bed bugs destroyed by a qualified exterminator in accordance with the required standards.

Check out the city’s website for bed bug information: https://ville.montreal.qc.ca/bedbugs/

View a map of bed bug extermination on the island on the Montreal data website: https://montrealdata.org/bed-bugs-montreal