By Raneem Alozzi
On March 12, The Eyeopener found bed bugs in the Victoria Building and now, nearby residences are taking precautions.
Last week, the privately-owned Parkside Student Residence sent out an email to residents alerting them to the presence of bed bugs on Ryerson’s campus and notifying them of information on bed-bug identification and prevention.
According to Melinda Farmer, the regional vice president of the Canadian Campus Communities, Parkside has quarterly checks throughout the year. Parkside is located near Ryerson at 111 Carlton St.
Farmer confirmed the residence has protocols in place to ensure if a pest outbreak occurs, they can immediately respond to the situation using the building’s control company. She declined to give details about the building’s specific protocols.
Bed bugs easily move around
Neetu Gogna, the office manager at Pestend, a Toronto-based pest control company, said bed bugs can latch onto students’ clothing and travel easily. “There’s a high chance that bed bug infestations can expand from one place to another … They’re very clever and can migrate very easily. If one area is treated, they will try to relocate to another [untreated] area,” she said.
There are a lot of bed bugs in downtown Toronto, cautioned Gogna. She said the ideal number of times to inspect a residence building for bed bugs should at least be every three months.
Following The Eye’s insect discovery, Ryerson sent out emails acknowledging the bugs’ presence, and classes in rooms 205 and 203 were moved to the Bond Place Hotel and the Holiday Inn respectively while exterminators treated the rooms. Since then, bugs have been reported in two other locations on campus.
Gogna said cleaning surrounding classrooms beside, above and below infested areas would be the ideal preventative measure. Since The Eye alerted Ryerson to the presence of bed bugs in room 205 of the Victoria Building, the university had the first three floors of the building treated with steam to kill the unwanted guests.
Private residences prepared for an outbreak
About a six-minute walk away from Parkside, Blair Savage lives in the Campus Common building on 50 Gerrard St. E., a private student residence. Savage said the building’s maintenance team notified her of a check-up on Sunday. The team came into her room on Monday to inspect her mattress and placed a pest trap near her bed.
Savage said the maintenance team told her they haven’t found anything but that students might be scared since the news about bed bugs at Ryerson. The team also told her that when they receive a report about pests, they check the units above and below as a precaution, explaining why her unit was inspected.
A notice in the Campus Common building stated indoor and outdoor common areas are inspected on the fourth Thursday of each month for the presence of pests. The inspection protocol includes preventative measures taken to ensure that the sites remain clear of pests.
The Campus Common management did not respond to request for comment prior to publication.
Down the street from Campus Common, Neill-Wycik Co-operative College acknowledged its “storied past” with bed bugs in the building on 96 Gerrard St. E. Because the building is open as a backpackers’ hostel every summer, Josh Graham, communications director of the residence, said they’re quite seasoned at dealing with bed bugs, when and if they occur.
Graham said, the building recently switched to a different pest control company, and in case of outbreaks, would provide residents with a treatment prep sheet and support with their preparation.
“This can often be an uncomfortable time, since one’s personal belongings and private space feel invaded and unsafe. We try to be as accommodating to our members as possible during an incident, and provide them with tips on dealing with the issue both emotionally and physically,” said Graham in an email.
Rye regularly checks residences for bed bugs
Valerie Bruce, manager of the Ryerson Housing Operations and Administration office, said that in August, prior to students moving into one of Ryerson’s own residences, her office sends bed-bug sniffing dogs through all the residence spaces.
“Any rooms that test positive for bed bugs are then treated with a heat treatment conducted by an external professional pest control company, and re-inspected prior to a student moving into that space,” she said in an email.
Bruce said if a room is tested positive for bed bugs during the year, students would typically be relocated to a temporary space while the room is treated over a two-week period. Students are then provided with instructions on how to handle an outbreak. This includes how students would prepare their space, what belongings to bring over with them to the temporary space, and how to wash/treat any items to reduce the risk of transferring pests to other parts of campus.
Bruce said if students are suspect or are concerned about their space, they’re instructed to notify the office. A visual inspection, by staff who are trained to recognize the presence of bed bugs, will then be performed. She noted that other inspections can be done on campus residences throughout the year as requested by students.
“When students think they might be somewhere suscept to bed bugs, they should check their clothes, scarves and bags before leaving that location,” Gogna said.
Rye’s bed bug history
- In 2013, The Eye reported a bed bug outbreak in Pitman Hall, where students were not immediately notified of the problem.
- In 2012, the Toronto Star reported on eight bed bug cases at Pitman and the International Living and Learning Centre.
- Prior to that, The Eye reported finding the pests in Pitman Hall in 2008 and 2006.
- The paper also reported on a pest infestation in Neill-Wycik, the privately-owned co-operative student residence building, in 2001.
- The same building, which housed 400 Ryerson students at the time, was entirely fumigated to rid of bed bugs in 1999.