Vermin infestation in two Chomedey homes remains unabated

Colony of rats refuses to abandon a couple of sinking ships

After exactly one year (June 23, 2020-2021) of infestation, conditions have worsened for rat spawning in Vicki Zannis’s home in Chomedey, now also crawling with cockroaches Throughout the breeding season, a single female can give birth to up to 500 rodents. “Why isn’t anyone taking this seriously? Being for a year is a big setback,” Zannis complains, adding that the rat infestation has cost her $5000 in legal fees have, so far.

Mrs. Zannis says there’s no way to catch the numerous rats in her property. “We have traps inside, and put bait outside,” she explains. “But that only covers part of the mice there.”

“In bed at night you can hear them running around the room. You hear the sounds as they walk on pillows, affecting people’s sleep, threatening nervous breakdowns. They eat food from kitchen shelves, their stools proliferate everywhere.

Traps kill mice, but residents still have to deal with the stench. “There’s the smell of live mice, but there are also rotting smells. It’s just horrible. It’s consuming me.

Normally, one would think that if you have problems with rats or mice coming from someone else’s property, the local authority (City Hall) would take action using its power and authority.

Intervention needed

“Surely, the city has legal powers to deal with infestations in homes like mine, vermin invasions coming from neighbouring houses. For example, where an infestation is harmful to your health or is a nuisance, it becomes a statutory nuisance. Where there’s a statutory nuisance, the local authority may be able to force the neighbor/landlord to deal with the problem.” This hasn’t happened; I haven’t received any assistance or any follow-up calls after my numerous pleas for help,” Zannis told The Laval News.

According to Mrs. Zannis, her neighbor Mrs. Verna Peters has been trying to clean up her home but hasn’t been getting any responses from City Hall since it was condemned from entry. The Curator must help Peters come back to a clean environment but that’s not happening. Worse, Mrs. Zannis’s legal firm Bertrand Laurent Larouche has not received any replies from City Hall.

Why hasn’t the Nuisance Law been applied in Zannis’s case?

Although difficult to navigate, Québec’s Law of Nuisance can be easily invoked, each case is judged on its own merits. Basic guiding principles, as found in current Québec and Canada law, can be used to illuminate the way for others. Private nuisance would apply to this case, according to definition.

“If the infestation is a risk to health or safety, it could be deemed hazardous under the Nuisance Law. Local authorities have obligations and powers to take action to deal with properties that have certain hazards. Why hasn’t this happened? Why have I been abandoned?” Zannis stated in despair.

No debate at city council

At the May 2021 Laval City Council meeting, Vimont councillor Michel Poissant, brought the Zannis-Peters humanitarian, vermin problem up during Business Arising period, but no debate was deemed permissible, with no comment or reaction ensuing. “It’s under the carpet at City Hall,” Mr. Poissant, who has taken quite an extensive and active role in attempting to help resolve the crisis, told TLN.

The Curator Public is managing Mrs. Peters’ assets. “I don’t know where that file is now,” Mr. Poissant admitted. He questions if the Curator has full power of attorney and, unfortunately, why no one is raising a red flag. City Hall will use the excuse that it’s out of their hands.”

Reaction from the opposition

David de Cotis, City Councillor for SaintBruno, stated in a phone interview that this situation is ludicrous even though it has become a civil case. He is surprised and concerned that knowing of the situation, He voiced, to The Laval News, (TLN) his disappointment that the Private Nuisance/Québec Nuisance Law hasn’t been applied. “I hold the mayor and his team responsible. There’s no aid, no direction – just creating more anxiety and stress while millions are spent on all sorts of consultation.This a matter of respect on humanitarian grounds. You can’t just close your eyes and pretend it doesn’t exist”, councillor De Cotis concluded.

Aglaia Revelakis, City Councillor for Chomedey District, in which Mrs. Zannis resides, contacted TLN to “clarify” that the City confirmed to her that they can’t do anything and that the issue has nothing to do with them. It’s between the neighbours, and it’s up to the Curator to resolve the issue. Mrs. Revelakis was asked if the Law of Nuisance was considered in this case. Apparently taken by surprise, the councillor responded, “NO”. Saying that she was appalled, she affirmed that the law should have been used to intervene to resolve this case. She expressed vexation, and was adamant about immediately contacting City Hall to discuss the lack of application of the Nuisance Law which makes good sense. “Why not use this law to protect people instead of causing agony?

Interim Mayor Response

On Friday June 18, our paper received the following response from Stéphane Boyer, Deputy Mayor and Vice-President of the Executive Committee.

“I can confirm that city officials are aware of the private conflict between these two neighbours over the presence of field mice in the building they share. This is indeed a particularly sad situation, but it is not the municipal administration that can help at this stage, as this is a private dispute.

We have carried out diligent checks in relation to your questions on the Nuisance Act. Unfortunately, the Legal Service confirms to us that there are no articles or levers that would allow the municipal ad-ministration to act.

In addition, the City of Laval cannot override a Quebec institution (the Curateur public du Québec). Obviously, Mayor Demers and the members of his administration are not above the law, even if this situation is regrettable. For the time being, the situation is therefore in the hands of the Curateur pub-lic du Québec.

This is a damning situation. It is certain that no one – no one – wants to live in such conditions. I am assured that all city employees have gone to the end of what they could do and that the situation is in the hands of the Curateur public, an authority of the Government of Quebec. While waiting for their return, the City’s hands are tied.”

Late-breaking solution surfaces

On a positive front of mixed blessings, although TLN’s calls to the Public Curator, Sophie Comtois, received no response, Mrs. Comtois did communicate directly with Mrs. Zannis and her lawyer via email, informing them that Mrs. Peters’ home and that of her son will be decluttered and cleaned shortly, but with no specific timeline. Rodent treatment was completed in March; a request for a follow-up for rodents has been made. The premises will also be inspected for cockroaches and other pest infestations. In the meantime, Mrs. Zannis still has to keep company with crawling scurrying rodents in her own house, as the problem persists, in the likelihood that the Peters home is not yet clear of its rodents. Mrs. Zannis told TLN that she’s feeling positive as a result of the email and the numerous follow-up calls resulting from two reports published by The Laval News in recent months.