Rats outside Ottawa Tim Hortons spark calls for action from residents

When Joe Remollino drove his car into a Tim Hortons drive-thru south of downtown Ottawa one morning before sunrise last week, he saw what he estimated to be hundreds of rats, scattering when his car’s headlights fell on them.

« It’s like the ground is moving, » the building maintenance worker said. « It was like an anthill, just crazy. »

He said he asked the employee at the drive-thru window if there was any construction going on that could have caused the sudden appearance of so many rats.

« And she said, ‘That’s normal,' » said Remollino, who came back and filmed the activity around the window.

Joe Remollino took a video of the rats he saw one morning. (Joe Remollino)

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has repeatedly visited the site at 1611 Bank Street near Heron Road. He issued notices of non-compliance regarding the company’s failure to keep the entrance free of pests and to clean up garbage and food waste from the outside.

The drive-thru runs behind the restaurant, a former auto repair garage, along a limestone retaining wall. At the lane exit point are trash cans and large commercial dumpsters used by Tim Hortons and an adjacent Central Bergham restaurant.

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Joe Remollino stands in the drive-thru at 1611 Bank Street, where he saw dozens of rats last week. (Stu Mills/CBC)

Ish Thomas has lived in a nearby building for seven years and said in recent weeks he had observed rats digging holes in his garden in broad daylight.

“I worry that when it gets cold and starts snowing, they start flocking inside,” Thomas said.

WATCH | Concerns about what happens in winter:


Ottawa resident says rats have taken up residence in his yard — and he’s worried they won’t stay there

Ish Thomas, whose backyard borders the Tim Hortons drive-thru at Bank Street and Heron Road, says rats have taken up residence in the yard in recent weeks, leaving him worried about moving inside when the winter will come.

Neither Ottawa Public Health nor Ottawa By-law Services agreed to an interview, but in an email, the agencies said they were talking with property owners in the area about a rat control strategy.

As of June, OPH determined that the building was not pest-proof. He saw the same shortcomings last week.

At another nearby house, a resident said she was also worried about rodents trying to find their way inside.

Commuters waiting for the bus at a nearby stop said it was common to see rats emerging from the limestone wall and scurrying along the lane near dumpsters.

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On October 11, inspectors found that the business at 1611 Bank Street was not complying with an order to protect a food premises « from the entry of pests and free from conditions which lead to the harboring or breeding parasites ». (Stu Mills/CBC)

“It gets out of hand pretty quickly here,” said Bill Dowd, founder of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, after watching the video shot by Remollino.

Dowd said the colony’s dwindling population will require the removal of den sites and better sanitation around the garbage area, where frozen shortening has accumulated on the ground.

Calls to Tim Hortons went unanswered.

The restaurant’s parent company, Restaurant Brands International Inc., did not respond to questions.


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