Residents of Fort Simpson’s public housing have once again been inflicted with an infestation of bedbugs, and the housing authority says they aren’t sure why the community is such a hotspot for the pests.
In September, CKLB received a tip from an anonymous source about another series of infestations in the community. The source declined to disclose their identity, and said tenants were reluctant to speak out on the issue due to “fear in the community of retribution.”
In August, 26 housing units in the community — each unit in the public housing 9-plex and 17 seniors’ units — were found to be infested with bedbugs, according to Housing NWT President Eleanor Young. She also said three units were infested in nearby Wrigley.
Housing NWT Spokesperson Jeanne Yurris said the housing authority first became aware of the infestations on Aug. 8. Two treatments were then conducted by a professional treatment company “due to the extent of the bedbugs”, one from Sept. 12 to 22, and one from Oct. 3 to 4.
In the meantime, these residents were housed in a “camp-style trailer” to prevent bedbugs from spreading to local hotels.
This is not the first time residents of Fort Simpson have had to deal with bedbugs: At least six public housing units were found to be infested in the summer of 2019, and two more cases were reported in the fall of 2020.
“Based on the questions that we’ve asked of the experts on this, they said that it’s very unlikely that there is a connection between those two events,” says Young on the 2019 infestation.
Young said the housing authority isn’t sure why the community has so many reoccurring infestations, although she suggested it may be because of Fort Simpson’s status as a regional hub. “Bedbugs tend to travel with people between communities and between residences, travel on things like clothes, things of that nature. So, Fort Simpson being a regional center, and having a lot of folks traveling in and out might be part of the reason.”
Going forward, Young says the housing authority will improve tenant education to prevent outbreaks before they happen. “As part of our strategic renewal of housing, we’re looking at how to improve our tenant education materials and the manner in which we provide that material and information to our tenants. So this will be one of the topics that we’ll be looking at as part of that education package.”
Fort Simpson Mayor Sean Whelly and the Village’s administration did not respond to requests for comment.