Ray LeBlanc lived on the streets for a year, during which time he says he never saw a bedbug.
He’s lived at Ted Kuhn Towers for three years and has become well-aquainted with the blood-sucking parasites.
He’s complained relentlessly to the managers of the building at 13352 Old Yale Rd. and BC Housing, which owns the facility.
LeBlanc says he had to go to arbitration to have the bedbug problem dealt with, adding he wanted a door sweep installed, along with foam to block the electrical plates and plugs to stop the bugs from crawling through the walls and into his room at night.
They gave him the tools necessary, then let him do the installations.
BC Housing has recently begun tearing up walls and ceilings to install fire sprinkler systems in the low-rise building where he lives, and now the bedbugs are all over his unit again.
He’s heading back to his advocate to begin an arbitration again to seek remedies.
Other tenants have called The Leader since the newspaper published a story about the bedbug problem on Sept. 22.
Shortly after the papers were delivered to the tower, someone collected them and threw them in the trash.
Kaye L’Abbe, 80, said she was told managers rounded up copies of the papers and threw them out shortly after they were delivered.
L’Abbe has lived at Ted Kuhn for 23 years and says the state of the building is absolutely disgusting.
“Everybody is loaded with bedbugs right now,” L’Abbe said. “I think I’ve gone through eight cans of Raid. I sprayed my bedroom.”
But the only thing that happens with that method is the bedbugs relocate to other areas of the unit, or somewhere else in the building.
“They’ve made more people throw out their furniture in this apartment than I’ve ever seen in my whole life,” L’Abbe said. “I’m 80 years old. I got bit again this morning. I’ve slept on the couch again last night, I haven’t been in my bed for a-week-and-a half, two weeks.”
Billie Mitchell said the infestation got so bad for her, she moved out at the beginning of the month.
Officials with BC Housing say they continue to treat the bedbug problem with professional companies that spray the units.
“Once a problem is discovered, BC Housing develops a detailed, site-specific strategy to try to eliminate bed bug infestations,” a housing ministry spokesman said by email. “Fumigation is usually required – tenants with health issues are offered temporary accommodation and minor expenses if required during the fumigation period.”
Fraser Health has developed an oversight position and has endorsed BC Housing’s plan to control the pests.
Despite B.C. Housing’s best efforts, tenants like L’Abbe and LeBlanc continue to wake up with welts from the tiny parasites.
Fraser Health said there’s no risk of transmission of disease to the general public.
However, those who are bitten are encouraged not to scratch the bite as it can get infected.
The prevalence of bedbugs globally dropped in the early 1900s, but they’ve made a resurgence in the last 30 years.
Now, they are found not only in hostels, homeless shelters and transition homes, but some of the better hotels in Vancouver.
LeBlanc says that’s soft comfort.
“People that live here are retired or disabled, either way they are suffering and dying too because of stress, that’s why I’m moving I dont wanna die here.”