Winnipeg police station infested by 'albino' rats

Officers at the Winnipeg Police District 3 station have unwanted visitors to the Hartford Street facility, but they are too small to slap on the handcuffs.

Pest control company brought in to tackle problems has caught 5 rats so far

Rats like the one pictured here have been found and trapped at the Winnipeg Police Service's District 3 station. (Mariposa Veterinary Wellness Center in Lenexa, KS/Flickr)

Officers at the Winnipeg Police District 3 station have unwanted visitors to the Hartford Avenue facility, but they are too small to slap on the handcuffs.


Rat infestation plagues old, outdated Winnipeg police station

8 years ago
Duration 2:04
Featured VideoOfficers at the Winnipeg Police District 3 station have unwanted visitors to the Hartford Avenue facility, but they are too small to slap on the handcuffs.

WPS Superintendent Bruce Ormistion confirmed there were reports of rats at the West Kildonan station. A pest control company subsequently set traps and five of the creatures have been caught. 

Ormiston told CBC News the rats were comparable to white lab rats and were less susceptible to carrying disease or viruses.

A City of Winnipeg crew has been assigned to repair cracks or other possible forms of entry to the station where the rodents might gain access.
Entomologist Taz Stuart says white lab-type rats in a police station are "unusual." (CBC News)

Taz Stuart, entomologist with Poulin's Pest Control Services, says lab-type rats are not often found in public buildings.

"[It's] unusual," Stuart said. "They are usually in the universities, the schools, the education system for testing," Stuart said.

Stuart says they are albino rats bred specifically for use in a clinical setting and are not normally found in the wild. The common rodent in Manitoba of this kind is the brown-coloured Norway rat. 

"These rats could be introduced by somebody, or maybe because you have unmentionables that come in through the door, they may have something in their belongings [that] could have possibly introduced them as well," he said.

The District 3 station is several decades old and has been earmarked for replacement for some time. The city has budgeted $3.13 million to purchase property for a replacement station and the capital cost to replace the building has been set at more than $20 million.
Councillor Scott Gillingham, chair of the Winnipeg Police Board, says he is open to ideas on replacing North End station. (CBC News )

"Those are big numbers," Winnipeg Police board chair Scott Gillingham told CBC News.

He acknowledged the Hartford Avenue station is old and rundown and the service needs a new facility.

"We know they need to get out of the station they are in and ultimately what they will go into is yet to be determined," Gillinghman said.

The decision to buy land and build a new station is set against the background of the ongoing controversy surrounding the new police headquarters. The cost to refurbish the former Canada Post building has soared from an original estimate of $135 million to more than $218 million including debt costs.

"Any new project, rightly so, carries with it extra scrutiny,' Gillingham said. "And it has to be done well."

The city is also facing a steep and expensive rehabilitation of the office tower connected to the new police headquarters. The building is mostly empty and needs millions of dollars in upgrades. 

Gillingham did not rule out the possibility of stationing the District 3 officers in the office tower and canceling plans for a new station in the area.

He said, speaking as a city councillor and not as head of the police board, he'd be agreeable to any answer that works for the police and the community.
North End police station has rat infestation (Sean Kavanagh)

"I'd be open to whatever is the best solution that makes economic sense, but also makes sure the police are in the community," Gillingham said.

The WPS moved to a four-district model of service three years ago, down from six. The service replaced outdated stations with new facilities on Dugald Road and Grant Avenue.

A pest control company is currently monitoring the District 3 station for further rat incursions.