B.C. Housing paid a total of $130,000 for two “thermal remediation trailers” to combat bedbugs at its Lower Mainland sites.
Last year, the provincial crown agency spent $800,000 in the Lower Mainland on bedbug-related pest control.
The new mobile trailers started travelling to sites in February. Each one carries a generator, cables, heaters, fans and sensors that can be set up in affected units. Heat is very effective in eradicating bedbugs because it kills both live bugs and eggs, while spraying doesn’t kill eggs.
Temperatures must stay at 120 degrees Fahrenheit for four hours, which can be achieved in wood-frame buildings more easily than in concrete structures, according to B.C. Housing.
“It should be noted that heat or any other type of treatment will not necessarily eliminate the need for repeat visits. If the unit becomes infested again, which can easily happen by a number of means, a new treatment is required,” explained Dale McMann, executive director of B.C. Housing’s Lower Mainland Directly Managed Operations, in an email to the Courier.
McMann said traditional methods of spraying have been used extensively by B.C. Housing, but spraying requires a significant amount of preparation for the unit. It also requires that the tenant leave their unit for a period of time during and following spraying, and it doesn’t kill bedbug eggs.
“Also over the past few years some of the most effective pesticides have been removed from the market and bedbugs are becoming resistant to some of the remaining pesticides,” he said.B.C. Housing’s new thermal remediation trailers have treated units at 18 different developments in the Lower Mainland so far, including nine in Vancouver. They haven’t had to return to any units for a repeat heat treatment yet, although some minor spraying has been done as a follow up in a handful of cases. McMann said B.C. Housing hires professional pest control experts to advise on the best treatments available, and it provides a range of assistance and advice to tenants to help eliminate bedbugs and how to prevent them from returning.
“Our organization provides services and supports to individuals who often face quite challenging circumstances, which can include mental health and addictions issues,” he stated. “Individuals in supportive housing situations can present challenges for the provision of ongoing pest control due to their lifestyle. They may not exercise the appropriate precautions about what may be safe or not safe to bring into their homes. These conditions can lead to a repeated need for pest control requirements and can also impact their neighbours.”
Once the thermal remediation trailers have been used over a longer period of time in B.C., McMann said B.C. Housing will document how effective they are and share that information.
Capital Region Housing Corporation in Edmonton uses similar trailers. Before buying its two units, B.C. Housing checked out Edmonton’s operation and discovered it had saved a substantial amount of money and reduced repeat problems.
A spokesperson for Capital Region Housing Corporation couldn’t be reached by the Courier’s deadline.