The Toronto-based owner of apartment buildings in Montreal's St-Laurent borough that tenants say are infested with vermin is blaming municipal bylaws for preventing his company from getting the problem under control.
MetCap Living President and CEO Brent Merrill responded Monday to allegations from residents of the apartment buildings along Decarie Boulevard that their units are full of cockroaches and mice.
Tenants allege MetCap hasn’t been taking the problem seriously, but Merrill told CBC News that the opposite is true.
Merrill said MetCap has thoroughly inspected the buildings and has spent $540,000 on pest control in the past two years on the apartment complexes in question.
Merrill said these particular buildings are not equipped with outside pens where waste thrown down the building’s garbage chutes can be stored until garbage day.
Municipal bylaws prevent MetCap from putting garbage outside the building on days when its collection is not scheduled, so Merrill says it has to keep the trash inside until garbage day — and that attracts pests.
Merrill said MetCap learned of this bylaw the hard way, receiving a fine for putting garbage out before collection day.
St-Laurent Borough Mayor Alan DeSousa said previous owners of the properties in question were able to find a solution to the problem, and he expects MetCap to do the same.
Storing the garbage outside is not an option, he said.
"There are houses in close proximity to the buildings right now and if ever there were to be some sort of mechanism to put them outside, it would clearly be a non-starter with the neighbours," he told CBC News.
However, the borough has not imposed a strict deadline.
"We would like [a solution] as soon as possible... This isn't rocket science," DeSousa said.
"The bottom line is that it meets our bylaws."
Fine not the first for MetCap
DeSousa told CBC News that MetCap's fine for putting garbage out before collection day was not its first from the borough.
According to DeSousa, MetCap has been fined thousands of dollars for not keeping its apartments in good condition.
The mayor says the borough had to hire three extra inspectors to help monitor the MetCap-owned apartment buildings.
"MetCap has essentially monopolized our staff over the last year to the extent that our ability to provide services across St-Laurent is impacted," he said.