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'I’m not getting anywhere': Mom grows more frustrated with rodent issue in Sask Housing building

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A Saskatoon mother living in a subsidized apartment is still battling with Sask Housing over a rodent infestation in her building, but she’s not backing down.

Dominika Kosowska lives in Sturby Place with her son. It’s a provincially subsidized building in the Eastview neighbourhood.

“I’m not getting anywhere with this. All I’m hearing is we’ll get more traps, we’ll try to contain it, don’t worry we’ll make it work,” Kosowska told CTV News.

Her situation was first brought to light on CTV News at the beginning of November. Since then, she’s been invited to the legislature by the NDP opposition, and when she was there had a meeting with the minister responsible, Gene Makowsky.

She said she offered suggestions on how to handle the situation better, like issuing the rodent and pest control letters to tenants in different languages since many don’t speak English well enough to understand the existing letters.

She’s received four letters this week from Sask Housing and the building manager, but she says, they’re just a band-aid aimed at keeping her quiet.

“Oh, if we give her that she’ll be quiet, or if we send her this letter, oh make this phone call to show that something is changing, but the root cause is still not being addressed,” she says.

Sask Housing sent her a letter saying the issue was taken care of by their exterminator.

In that letter, Roger Parenteau Executive Director, Housing Operations said,

At this point in time, we are pleased to say that the pest situation has been addressed; however, Mr. Nisar and SHA will continue to monitor the building on a weekly basis to ensure that this remains the case. Following our meeting with you, we spoke to all but one of the tenants in the building and they indicated they have not had any mice or other pests in their units.

The letter also asks her to pay her rent which she had withheld until something was done.

Koskowska says she’s paid the rent for fear of getting evicted – but little has changed.

“My son called me to the bedroom and is like 'Oh no mommy, I’m hearing scratching again'. Sask Housing says nobody in the building says anything, so it must be you,” she said.

The reason she thinks no one else is admitting to having pests is that they either don’t speak English well enough or fear being evicted.

She reached out to her own exterminator looking for answers.

Jason Hiltz is the CEO of Hitman Exterminators, and because of Kosowska’s situation, he offered his insight.

“When I talked to Dominika’s friend, he told me it was night and day when he spoke to me about that pest control situation compared to what information they gathered from the Sask Housing pest control agent,” Hiltz told CTV News.

Hiltz started Hitman Exterminators about seven years ago after having lived in a Sask Housing complex himself because of severe medical issues. He was unable to work and needed subsidized housing. The building he was living in was great at first and then became infested with cockroaches, which were unresolved.

Most residents moved out of that building. It was that situation that prompted him to start his extermination business. He has a horticulture background and knew he wanted to help others. Something he says Sask Housing isn’t doing.

“They don’t do a damn thing to take care of people other than what they think they should be doing,” he says.

The NDP Housing critic, Meara Conway, commented on Kosowska’s case in Regina Monday.

“She remains in her current place, her issues are still there, and now there’s the added suggestion of eviction. So we’re definitely going to be looking into that,” Conway said.

The minister of social services sent CTV News a statement similar to the letter received by Kosowska. They did add that a thermal imaging camera was used to find the rodents in Sturby Place. Something Kosowska says she didn’t witness.

During her meeting with Makowsky last month, Kosowska said the minister assured her she would not be thrown out on the street with her son. 

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