In 2007 I read this post by Sean Orr on Beyond Robson claiming that bed bugs were a growing concern downtown. The following year my friend was moving out of her West End apartment and looking for a new place across town. This is when she told me about the Bed Bug Registry. It’s a very basic-looking website where you can list a complaint about any building or hotel. Managers and property owners can follow up and complaints are time-stamped so you can look up the latest occurrence of the more-than-pesky creatures.
When I began helping another friend find an apartment in the West End in 2010 I plugged addresses into Google and the Bed Bug Registry came up on the front page of search results (I didn’t even need to visit the site anymore, its listings were all indexed). It was amazing to see the results, from 2007 until 2010, in so many of the buildings I researched.
Today, The Vancouver Sun posted images showing known bed bug infestations around Metro Vancouver. The highest concentration? In the West End and not the Downtown Eastside as some might assume.
When I spoke to Fergus McCann from BC Housing last summer he said that in most renovated SRO buildings in the DTES, there are bed bug chambers where belongings can be placed and given a bed bug-proof ‘sauna’, eradicating the insects from personal effects before someone moves in. The initiative seems to be working.
While they have a stigma attached to them, you can potentially find bed bugs anywhere. From a theatre in Times Square, to clothing stores and luxury hotels. I read today that one out of five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or a hotel according to a survey from the National Pest Management Association. So, what can also be done in the West End and across Canada where there is a growing concern in residential and commerical spaces?
Being someone that travels a lot, I usually check the registry, online reviews, then do a mattress check wherever I stay. It may sound paranoid, but from the stories I hear about getting rid of infestations (thousands of dollars to replace furniture, pest control, and then monitoring to see if they come back), I’d rather be diligent. It would seem however, that is an issue that needs to be addressed on a much higher level.
Here are a few online resources:
Procedures and your rights: Tenant Resource Advisory Centre
How to check for bed bugs: eHow
Bed bug FAQ: BedBugger
Bed bugs and the law: CBC