2010 Villain: Bedbugs
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2010 Villain: Bedbugs

Illustration by Jeremy Kai/Torontoist.

Torontoist is ending the year by naming our Heroes and Villains—Toronto’s very best and very worst people, places, and things over the past twelve months. From December 13–17: the Villains! From December 20–24, the Heroes! And, from December 27–30, you can vote for Toronto’s Superhero and Supervillain of the year.

They’re baaa-aaaaaack! Or, well—they never actually went away.
Once the innocuous subject of a childhood saying where “night” rhymed with “bite,” bedbugs have become a physical and psychological pest epidemic, capping their reign of terror on Toronto last year by making it as a finalist for our Supervillain of 2009. Not content to settle for less than the best, the little apple-seed-sized jerks went ahead and got even worse this year.
In fact, in 2010, bedbugs seemed inescapable in Toronto, peaking this summer with an almost daily barrage of coverage from the dailies and TV and radio broadcasts, to say nothing of the foreboding furniture-lined curbsides citywide.
Things got creepiest in July and August, when the very public infestations of stores and movie theatres that we’d heard of in the faraway land of New York City started popping up in Toronto; first, in hospitals, then, as though the pests were battling last year’s Superhero, marking their territory in various Toronto Public LIbrary branches, and ending the summer with a bang by crawling their way into a near–public relations (and just plain public) disaster when a Scotiabank Theatre customer reported a suspected bite just before TIFF was about to roll into town. Who would save the celebs? And, um, what about us?
Well, no one, yet. Lasting solutions seem dire still—not to mention the stonewall caused by inadequate extermination preparation and the cost of removal services (often leading to the discarding of furniture, clothing, and other belongings). Toronto Public Health forged ahead with its Bed Bug Project (which had received 1,076 calls for assistance by July 31), attempting to educate with bigger hopes of reducing some of the stigma, including the anxiety and isolation that bedbugs can cause. In September, MPP Mike Colle held a Bed Bug Summit at Queen’s Park, later supplemented with recommendations and an action plan focusing on provincial coordination on all bedbug eradication efforts.
But around the same time, the province denied the City of Toronto a $2.8 million dollar bedbug-combatant proposal, a motion put forth by long-time bedbug-battler Councillor Paula Fletcher (Ward 30, Toronto-Danforth) and endorsed by the Toronto Board of Health. Ontario’s Minister of Health Deb Matthews told the Star that though that proposal was a no-go, they “are continuing to work with our public health units.” Work harder! We’re itchy!
Bedbugs, you make living with mice look good. You nerve-wracked, deflated, and consumed the city far too much this year—even, often, without a direct experience with you. Just die, already.