By Shaneza Subhan
Construction around Union Station may be the cause of an alleged “large rat colony.”
But the TTC say it isn’t seeing any more rats than usual. The situation with respect to rodents from the TTC’s perspective remains unchanged despite reports claiming the rat colony at the railway station has boomed in size.
And the city is wondering if reports of a growing rat colony was a publicity stunt.
“I think it was a company that was trying to get a little bit of promotion for themselves and decided to have this press conference outside of Union Station,” City of Toronto spokesperson Jackie DeSouza said.
Steven Graff, Abell’s Pest Control manager, disputed her claim by saying their motivation was to send out a message that there is rat activity and it has been exaggerated by the construction.
“We actually have had clients where we are seeing higher levels of rat activity around the outside of their property,” Graff said. “We’re getting extra calls from people seeing rats outside and requesting us to ramp up our service.”
Graff describes the rats are “spilling over.”
“It’s creating a ripple affect,” Graff said. “The rats in one area are moving to another area and they’ll be competing against the rats in that area, pushing them out to find new space.”
They have burrows established, but as construction workers start digging and expanding, it’s forcing them to move out of that space and go elsewhere, said Graff.
However DeSouza said Toronto is a big city and there are rats everywhere.
“Whenever there is any kind of construction or disruption, it’s going to disrupt the colonies,” DeSouza said. “As far as we’re concerned, it’s no bigger of an issue than it always has been.”
The city has a contract with Orkin Canada Pest Control that manages mice, rats and other rodents at a number of different city facilities including Union Station.
The company has been consulted with and as a result, they have increased the level and frequency of service at and around Union Station, DeSouza said.
“We’ve also instructed staff to empty garbage bags more frequently and warned construction staff and tenants not to feed pigeons,” she said.
TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the TTC does not see a problem at Union Station at all and there is no indication of any increased activity of rats or even rodents.
“This story that emerged this week is a curious one to us because we’re not seeing any activity,” Ross said.
There is a management system to deal with mice at the station.
Ross says he cannot speak on behalf of the railway station, but as far as the TTC is concerned, there has been no increase.
“We don’t see rats in the subway system at a high degree,” Ross said. “They’re in there because it’s normal but you don’t see them on the platforms or track.”
Both Graff and DeSouza have said the city of Toronto has not done any studies on the rat population in Toronto.