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Saskatoon mom says concerns over rodent infestation in Sask. Housing building falling on deaf ears

Rodent traps, sticky paper and droppings are scattered around Dominika Kosowska’s small, two-bedroom apartment in Saskatoon’s Eastview neighbourhood.

She cleans up as best she can, but there are so many holes in the walls and baseboards that she can’t keep up. There’s even a mouse hole next to her son’s room with droppings beside the bed.

Dominika Kosowska on her living room couch. (Lara Fominoff/650 CKOM)

In the last four months alone, Kosowska has killed nearly half a dozen rodents in her apartment.

The Saskatoon mother has lived at Sturby Place with her son for the last four years. Prior to the pandemic, she said she worked at Saskatchewan Polytechnic as an instructor, but was laid off after funding cuts.

Then the pandemic hit, and she began homeschooling her son while taking training courses in domestic violence counselling.

Now she’s so fed up with the rodent problem, and what she called a lack of action from the Saskatoon Housing Authority, that she has refused to pay her rent until the authority deals with the building-wide infestation.

“It starts around 10:30 at night. I hear (the rodents) chewing. I hear them scratching and chewing. They chew through the baseboards and the walls,” said Kosowska.

“They would be in the walls above my head, so I literally tried to sleep, and I felt like they were crawling all over me,” she added. “I have nightmares with rats every single night. I cannot relax at home, knowing they could just run through the apartment.”

A mouse trap with droppings in Dominika Kosowska’s kitchen. (Lara Fominoff/650 CKOM)

The rodents are just the tipping point for her over the last couple of years, after dealing with other issues in the building.

“We’ve had bedbugs here. We’ve had cockroaches here. We’ve had some sort of beetles that eat flour and rice. Where do they all come from?” she asked. “Now there’s mice and rats. That should not be happening.”

Kosowska also said there was a bat’s nest in the building.

“I don’t know where they come in,” she said. “They’re just there.”

She presented several letters of correspondence between her and the Saskatoon Housing Authority. Because she hasn’t paid her rent and owes more than $1,000, she’s afraid she’ll be evicted.

One letter from the authority states: “Your prompt attention to these arrears will ensure your continued tenancy with the Saskatoon Housing Authority.”

Another letter, dated Nov. 9, showed the housing authority went to her apartment to inspect it for mice because “we’ve been made aware that you may be experiencing some concerns with these pest issues.”

Kosowska said she’d been writing letters and communicating with the housing authority, but nothing has changed.

According to its website, the Saskatoon Housing Authority is an agency of the Saskatchewan Housing Corporation that “seeks to maintain and improve the quality of the existing housing units and to provide an effective housing service.”

“SHA administers and manages the Social Housing program,” the statement added. “The primary objective of this program is to provide safe, quality housing at affordable rents to seniors, families and those requiring wheelchair accessible housing.”

Last week, Kosowska’s concerns were brought up by NDP Social Services Critic Meara Conway in the Legislature in an exchange with Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky.

Kosowska said she was recently shown another apartment in the Holiday Park area across the city. However, that would require funds to move, and a potential schooling change for her son.

“For the past seven years I have spent building the community (contacts). It’s just me and my son. I have no family here. We have friends (and) our adopted Canadian granny … If they move me away, I have no safety network … and for me to drive my son to school, that’s a long drive,” she said.

Aside from having the rodent infestation dealt with, her hope is to find a job as soon as possible, and to move out of the building to a pest-free apartment in the same area of the city.

The Sturby Place Apartment in Saskatoon. (Lara Fominoff/650 CKOM)

However, she said she’s still committed to fighting for a safer place to live for anyone else who might move into the same building in the future.

She said there are Ukrainian newcomers to Saskatchewan who have also moved into her building in the last two months, and others who are disabled who can’t advocate for themselves.

“I cannot just move out of here, even if it’s in the next building, because they will put somebody else in here who will live in those conditions. The whole building needs a treatment and the root problem has not been addressed so far,” she claimed.

In a prepared statement, Saskatchewan Housing Corporation executive director Roger Parenteau said the organization has been working closely with the Saskatoon Housing Authority to address concerns at Sturby Place.

“Maintenance services has been engaged multiple times to address concerns,” the statement said. “Earlier this month, the authority also engaged an outside extermination firm for additional support.”

It goes on to say the firm inspected Kosowska’s unit, set up traps and glue boards, and plugged holes. Thermal imaging was also provided, and the attic of the building was inspected but didn’t show any rodent activity.

Parenteau’s statement also indicated that no additional inspection or treatments were needed unless more rodent activity was reported. However, exterminators will monitor the building.

In the last four months alone, Kosowska has killed nearly half a dozen rodents in her apartment.

Source: https://www.ckom.com/2022/11/16/saskatoon-mom-says-concerns-over-rodent-infestation-in-sask-housing-building-falling-on-deaf-ears/

Donovan Larsen

Donovan is a columnist and associate editor at the Dark News. He has written on everything from the politics to diversity issues in the workplace.

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