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Bed bug reduction through education

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Got bed bugs?

James Lyons has a steam cleaner for you.

Since September, Lyons has been the go-to "bed bug guy" for the Daniel McIntyre, St. Matthews, West Broadway, and Spence neighbourhoods as part of his job as the bed bug outreach and prevention coordinator at the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association.

"Our communities have been particularly hit by the bed bug issue," he said.

"I’m dealing with all different types of clients — from students to people with mental health issues to working folk."

Lyons’ gig is twofold: helping those with infestations effectively prepare for extermination, and preventing the bugs from hatching in the first place.

Early detection remains critical, and part of Lyons’ job is to help tenants and landlords communicate with one another and inform them of their responsibilities.

"A lot of tenants don’t know their rights and a landlord might not know what to do (with an infested suite)," Lyons said, noting landlords are responsible for treating units and tenants are required to cooperate or face possible eviction.

"There can be a lot of frustration on both parts."

Through his position — funded by Neighbourhoods Alive! through a proposal between the DMSMCA, the Spence Neighbourhood Association, Resource Assistance for Youth, the West Broadway Development Corporation and New Journey Housing — Lyons can loan out a steam cleaner and vacuums to help those affected clean their suites prior to extermination.

He’s also able to connect clients such as seniors with other agencies to help with the process.

"A senior isn’t going to be able to move all the cupboards out from her wall," he said.

Lyons also holds workshops in the community highlighting ways to prevent the bugs from spreading, such as reducing clutter and resisting the urge to pick up free furniture left out as bulky waste.

"It’s very easy for them to spread," he said.

"There’s a risk (of getting them) everywhere you go."

Lyons also sells mattress covers at cost to those who need them.

Lyons, 28, wrote a thesis on the social impact of bed bugs on inner city residents as part of his sociology degree at the University of Manitoba.

To learn more, email bedbug.prevention@dmsmca.ca or call 204-774-7005 ext. 109.

— Staff

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