Watson Lake resident says Liard First Nation is ignoring bedbug infestation

A Watson Lake resident says her apartment has been infested with bedbugs since Christmas, and the Liard First Nation Development Corporation has done nothing to fix the situation.

A Watson Lake resident says her apartment has been infested with bedbugs since Christmas, and the Liard First Nation Development Corporation has done nothing to fix the situation.

Nicole Beauchemin said she believes the Lakeview Apartments have had bedbug problems since before she moved in a year ago.

She said the building’s caretaker has told her there’s no money to pay for an exterminator.

Beauchemin said it took her about a month to figure out that the apartment she shares with her boyfriend and three children was infested.

“I didn’t know what they were at first,” she said. It wasn’t until the bugs started getting bigger that she was able to identify them.

She said she trapped one of them in a container and brought it to show the caretaker, but the woman told her not to cry and assured her that the bites would be just like mosquito bites.

The bugs quickly spread from her chair to the various beds in the apartment, Beauchemin said. She’s had to throw out her daughter’s bed and the mattress on one of the bunkbeds where her sons sleep. Now, her daughter sleeps on the floor and her two sons sleep together in the top bunk.

She’s kept her own bed, though it’s also infested. “We just have no place to sleep,” she said.

Beauchemin said her three children are all being bitten, but her daughter has the worst reaction to the bites.

“She’s scratching,” she said. “She has scabs all over her body.”

According to Beauchemin, others in the building have had similar problems. She said one of her neighbours has moved out because of the infestation, and she’s seen others leaving furniture outside in the cold, possibly to try and kill the bugs.

She, too, is looking for another place to live, but she said it’s been difficult to find other rental properties.

Beauchemin believes an exterminator was brought in two or three years ago to treat the entire building, but she said that hasn’t happened since she moved in a year ago. Since she’s been there, she said, an exterminator has occasionally come to treat individual apartments, but even that hasn’t happened since her apartment was infested around Christmas.

Beauchemin said the Lakeview Apartments are owned by the Liard First Nation Development Corporation. She pays rent to the corporation through the caretaker every month.

But she said the caretaker has told her that the owners are saying there’s just no money to pay for an exterminator right now.

“I want the whole building done, because it’s not going to go away until the whole building’s done,” she said.

The News was unable to reach anyone with the Liard First Nation Development Corporation.

The Liard First Nation has been under third-party management since the fall of 2014, after it laid off 40 employees, saying it could no longer afford to pay them.

It’s now the third-party manager’s responsibility to ensure continued delivery of programs and services to the community.

But that doesn’t extend to managing housing for the First Nation, according to an email statement from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

“For First Nation-owned housing, chief and council is responsible for housing maintenance,” according to the statement.

The third-party manager also does not collect rent.

Beauchemin said she has considered filing a complaint with the residential tenancies office. But she said when she spoke with the office, she understood that she would have to come into Whitehorse to complete the process, which would be difficult for her to manage.

But Shane Hickey, director of employment standards and residential tenancies for the Department of Community Services, said that’s not the case.

The dispute resolution process changed after amendments to the Residential Landlord and Tenant Act came into effect on Jan. 1, Hickey said.

Now, dispute resolution hearings can be held by teleconference, and the office can issue binding decisions instead of requiring that the tenants and landlords go to court.

However, the process still requires that a tenant who files a complaint provide a copy of the documents directly to the landlord, either in person or by registered mail.

For the time being, Beauchemin’s caretaker has recommended that she buy Raid to try and treat the apartment herself. But so far, she hasn’t been able to find any in Watson Lake. So she’s been using tea tree oil on the upper bunkbed to try and keep the bugs away.

But Nolan Newman, a branch manager with Orkin Canada, a pest control company, said the idea that tea tree oil can fight bedbugs is “just a myth.”

He said Raid won’t help much either, as it will just drive the bugs into the walls and neighbouring apartments.

Bedbugs also become immune to pesticides very quickly, he said. “Don’t treat it yourself. It makes our job a lot harder.”

Once an entire building is infested with bedbugs, Newman said, it’s not easy to get rid of them.

“It might take us about a good six months to get them out,” he said. “It does take some time to break the cycle.”

He said bed bugs are becoming more common in the Yukon, and cautioned against buying any used bedding or furniture.

He said people dealing with an infestation should vacuum their bedding and all crevices and baseboards in their home. They should also throw their sheets in the dryer for 15 minutes and use bedbug mattress covers.

The News was unable to reach any other tenants or the caretaker of the Lakeview Apartments.

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read