An advocacy group for people in low-income housing marched outside the office of Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard Tuesday to draw attention to a bug problem at a Dartmouth housing complex.

Residents of 101 Nova Court have reported infestations of cockroaches, bedbugs and ants. 

The group ACORN organized the protest on behalf of residents.

Board member Darryl King says the group wants to meet with Bernard.

"We're here to support and for the need and also to get a meeting with Joanne Bernard to discuss this issue and see what more can be done," he said.

A solution can’t come soon enough for 101 Nova Court resident Daryl MacDonald. He points to the bedbug bites and scabs on his legs.

"They’re mostly healed now," he said. 

Bedbug bites

Resident of 101 Nova Court, Daryl MacDonald, points to the bites and scabs on his legs he says are from bedbugs. (CBC)

Although many at the protest showed off full cockroach traps, MacDonald says the biggest problem for him has been the bedbugs.

He says he doesn’t know how they got in the unit, but so far they haven’t yet infested his bed. If they do, he doesn’t know what his next move could be.

"With rent prices around here and being on assistance, I can’t afford something else," he said.

More than 40 of the building residents have signed a petition that has gone to Metro Housing which looks after 101 Nova Court as well as other subsidized housing.

Moving won't address the issue

Officials with Metro Housing say they've met with their tenants and are already trying to fix the problem. 

Janet Burt-Gerrans, the manager at Metro Housing, says they have taken steps.

"We have closed down the garbage chute. We've removed the large garbage bin from the basement of the building and it's outside now," she said.

Burt-Gerrans says they also have started educating tenants on how they can keep pests from spreading. She admits it’s a problem in many of the buildings they manage, not just Nova Court.

"Moving people to another building isn't going to fully address the issue," she said.

MacDonald would like to see more action taken.

"I'd like to see them get some kind of program set in where they're coming in and you know, spraying and cleaning everything and not just when someone complains," he said.

The protesters didn’t get the answers they wanted from the department of community services. There was no response from Joanne Bernard.