Brandon man escapes bug-infested Manitoba Housing unit – Brandon Sun

Brandon man escapes bug-infested Manitoba Housing unit – Brandon Sun

A Brandon man says his life is in limbo after plans to move closer to family in Winnipeg ended in him fleeing his Manitoba Housing apartment that was infested with cockroaches and bed bugs.

Victor Bouvette, 68, is now living out of bags after returning to his original Manitoba Housing unit in Lawson Lodge on Eighth Street in Brandon. In the meantime, he’s attempting to salvage the furniture and household items he left in Winnipeg, but was told he has until Friday to remove his belongings, or they’ll be discarded.

A pensioner with heart problems, he said he doesn’t have the means to return to Winnipeg or retrieve his belongings.

Victor Bouvette stands in his new bedroom at Lawson Lodge, a Manitoba Housing apartment building in Brandon, after fleeing a bug-infested unit in Winnipeg. (Karen McKinley/The Brandon Sun)

“I have no money, I’m barely scraping by as it is and that move cost me $2,000,” he said on Tuesday. “I was very fortunate the Brandon people at Manitoba Housing got me back in so quickly. My neighbours have helped with food, and friends have loaned me some other things, but the rest of my stuff is in Winnipeg and I can’t get back there on my own.”

Bouvette said he has suffered five heart attacks and two strokes and a recent chest infection.

His original plan was to move closer to family in Winnipeg. He lived in his Brandon unit for 15 years and applied to transfer to a unit in Winnipeg, and was told there was one available in a building at 125 Carriage Rd. He has always been a tidy and respectful tenant, he said, and one of his sisters checked out the apartment for him, telling him it seemed clean and renovated.

Bouvette set sticky paper traps on the countertop of his old Manitoba Housing apartment in Winnipeg, which quickly filled with roaches. (Submitted)

Bouvette moved into the unit on July 2. The second night there, he noticed a bug scurrying under his stove. At the time he thought nothing of it, believing it was something else that came in from under his front door.

Later that day, he discovered four cockroaches on his counter.

He went to the building management office and they gave him some sticky paper traps.

He put one on his kitchen counter. The next morning, he woke up to the countertop trap containing at least 10 roaches. The third night, another trap caught more roaches. He bought more traps from an extermination company, putting them down around his kitchen, under his chesterfield and next to heating grates. Every night, he said, there were more roaches.

After he contacted the building management office again, he said one staff member gave him more traps and also tried to plug some holes that may have been entry points with spray-foam insulation.

That didn’t work, either.

He would see cockroaches crawling on the walls, getting into his food, even in his bed.

“Every time I came into my unit, I’d step on four or five of them,” he said. “I’m sitting down, reaching for my tea and they are already in my cup.”

He said he was told a maintenance crew that works for the province was coming to spray insecticide this Friday. He learned the building has had a roach problem for 18 years. He also discovered bed bugs in his unit.

It got so bad, he said, he resorted to sleeping in his bathtub with traps around the rim. Even then, he woke up to roaches crawling around the tub and stuck in the traps. His family stopped visiting him when they learned about the roach infestation, which he said he understands knowing how quickly they can infest another place.

Without any help, and roaches and bed bugs coming in droves, he walked out of his apartment. Without money for a cab or bus fare, he hitchhiked back to Brandon. He told Manitoba Housing in Brandon what happened to him, and they quickly arranged for him to move back into his old unit.

While happy to be in a roach-free apartment, he is living with virtually nothing. He was able to get his bed and TV back, but most of his clothes and personal belongings remain in Winnipeg.

“I can’t get back to Winnipeg, my family can’t help and I know some of my belongings are salvageable,” he said. “I am so grateful for everyone who’s helped me and Brandon’s Manitoba Housing team has been wonderful in helping me. No one should have to live like that. I’m still waking up every 20 minutes or so at night, looking around for bugs.”

He is open to any assistance to get his belongings back, he said.

The Sun contacted Manitoba Housing multiple times on Tuesday. By Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for the provincial government said they were still gathering information and would provide a response on Thursday.


» Twitter: @karenleighmcki1

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