Montreal

Cockroaches infest SQ's Montreal headquarters

Police and civilian employees have been finding cockroaches, dead or alive, on nearly every floor, near elevator shafts, in hallways, bathrooms and offices.

Cockroach sightings have been reported almost 50 times over the last two years

The SQ has called in exterminators about 50 times since 2017 to fumigate for cockroaches at its rented building located at 701 Parthenais Street, near Logan Street. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

They're finding them on nearly every floor, near elevator shafts, in hallways, bathrooms and offices. Sometimes they're dead. Many times, they're not.

The Sûreté du Quebec headquarters in Montreal has a cockroach problem.

The SQ has called in exterminators about 50 times since 2017 to fumigate for cockroaches at its rented building located at 1701 Parthenais Street, near Logan Street.

Radio-Canada obtained details about the infestation through an access to information request.

Combating the problem has cost tens of thousands.

In May 2017, the Société québécoise en infrastructures (SQI), the provincial agency that owns the building, retained extermination services with a Blainville-based company, Orkin Canada, for $20,340.

That annual extermination allowance was boosted in May 2018 to nearly $36,000.

The SQ, citing that it is a tenant of the building, declined to comment on the situation.

Cockroaches captured and detained

The access to information request revealed details of cockroach sightings dating back to August 2017. In some cases, employees reported capturing and keeping the six-legged trespassers as evidence.

One report from June 4, 2018, documents a sighting on the third floor: "Can you come to treat please. We captured it if you need to see it."

The problem is not alarming, but the provincial police union is taking the case seriously, said president Pierre Veilleux.

"We are following the evolution of this problem and we are in contact with the various stakeholders, particularly those from the Sûreté du Québec and public health, to find the best possible solutions," he told Radio-Canada.

Renovations in the works

The SQI claims that the SQ's headquarters is not a dilapidated public building and it has been well maintained in recent years.

"The building is also the subject of frequent maintenance work, including the replacement of elevators, the repair of the electrical entrance, the replacement of controls for heating, ventilation and air-conditioning equipment", said SQI spokesperson Martin Roy.

The type of cockroaches in the building are American cockroaches, not German cockroaches, which are often associated with unclean spaces, he said.

Plumbing renovations are planned for SQ headquarters in Montreal to mitigate the cockroach infestation, but a local exterminator says that may not be enough. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

With none of those repairs eliminating the roaches, the SQI is now taking aim at Montreal's sewer system — blaming the aged underground infrastructure for the bugs.

The next step will be a complete overhaul of the building's plumbing.

"It is a challenging job as it is about 68,000 square metres and, as you know, people work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."

Change of strategy needed, exterminator suggests

To put an end to the problem, the SQI must change its strategy, said Frank Pulcini, the owner of Central Extermination, a Montreal-based service. Radio-Canada contacted Pulcini for his opinion on the situation.

Changing the plumbing, he said, may not be the ultimate solution.

"The piping of a building can also serve as a gateway, but it is not the only reason to explain their presence," he said. "American cockroaches are mostly transported by humans before settling in buildings."

At this rate, he believes that the number of requests for the services of an exterminator could be just as high in the coming months.

"The problem with going one room at a time is the products used to decontaminate have an expiration date," Pulcini said.

"Considering that cockroaches can survive for a long time in the walls, without food, you return to the same places three or four months later."

Based on a report by Radio-Canada's Pascal Robidas

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