“It’s time to take action!” – North Bay’s Student Problem

From: Philip St. George, thenorthbaybay.ca staff

NORTH BAY — Residents concerned about an apparent influx of students in the city urged North Bay City Council on Monday to address the problem.

“The students are here, and the students are here and the students are here,” said Kristy Von Tussle, pointing to a map of her property on Thibeault Terrace.

“I’ve never had students before in my neighborhood. It’s the first time in 50, 60 years.”

Von Tussle told her story Monday evening to the North Bay City Council, which convened to discuss how to deal with the issue.

Molly Black, a local expert on student behaviour and movement, says it’s time to take action, pointing to Nipissing University and Canadore College’s recent reports of increasing enrollment numbers for 2017-2018.

“North Bay has it really bad,” Molly told The North Bay Bay Monday. “We’ve been letting it get this way for years, and it’s time to take action.”

Just what kind of action, and how harsh, Molly says, is the real question.

“The problem we’re seeing now is just the tip of the iceberg. This happens in a lot of bigger cities, but here in North Bay, we have housing by-laws that make the students move in ways you don’t see otherwise.”

“In general the number of reports tends to increase in the autumn, when students become more visible in residential areas. In part they move to gardens in order to eat fruit and use natural habitat like bushes, but they also try to get into houses in order to seek out warmth for the winter.”

Molly says that residents can decrease the number of students in North Bay by being more careful about littering and leaving garbage around. Students are known to be attracted to open trash cans and can get into almost anything that is not sealed tight.

“We were out the other day at a site where there was a lot of trash and clutter in the back garden. When everything is left sitting it attracts students and they establish a population.”

“It’s important to eliminate sources of food. If you have bins and containers outside, make sure they have a properly sealed lock that covers the entirety. You also need to have systematic cleaning so that scents don’t attract the students. There are a lot of small things that everybody can do to resolve the problem.”

City Council weighs in

Conditions conducive to students have been reported on at least 150 properties in the McNamara/Cartier area within the last year, said City Councillor Vic Tikus.

Officials on Monday discussed various ideas to combat the students, including sending out informational materials, hiring more inspection staff, and using poison.

Another option considered was to hire an exterminator to trap students, which the city did during a 2009 student outbreak, said Charisse Meg, assistant director of the city’s Community and Economic Development Department.

For now, city inspectors are focusing on education and enforcement, such as advising residents who report students on their properties on how not to attract more.

“If that doesn’t work, I guess we’ll just have to exterminate them,” City Councillor Vic Tikus concluded Monday. “I know it would be a popular choice, but I somehow feel like we might lose our third and fifth largest employers, 6000 paying residents, and the lifeblood of the city.”

“But I guess that’s the price of progress.”

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