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October 14, 2022

‘It’s like the ground was moving’: Tim Hortons customer shocked by rats on drive-thru pavement

Joe Remollino says he pulled into the Tim Hortons drive-thru at Bank Street and Heron Road for an early-morning coffee and was greeted by the sight of dozens of mice and rats scurrying on the pavement beside the restaurant.

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

“It’s like the ground was moving,” said the building maintenance worker. “It was like an anthill, just crazy.”

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

“And she said, ‘That’s normal,'” said Remollino, who returned and shot video of 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 St., near Heron Road. It has issued non-compliance notices about the business’s failure to keep the entry free from pests and to clean garbage and food waste from around the exterior.

The drive-thru runs behind the restaurant, a former auto repair garage, alongside a retaining wall of limestone. At the exit point of the lane are garbage bins and large commercial dumpsters used by Tim Hortons and an adjoining Central Bergham restaurant.

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

Ish Thomas has lived in a multi-unit building next door for the past seven years and said in the last few weeks, he has watched in daylight as rats have dug holes throughout his backyard.

“I’m worried that when it gets cold and starts snowing, they’ll start flocking indoors,” Thomas said.

WATCH | Concerns about what happens come winter:

Ottawa resident says rats have moved into 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 made themselves at home in the yard in recent weeks, leaving him worried they’ll move indoors when winter comes.

Neither Ottawa Public Health nor Ottawa By-law Services agreed to an interview, but in an email the agencies said they were speaking with landlords in the area about a strategy to combat the rats.

Beginning in June, OPH determined the building wasn’t secure from pests. It found the same deficiencies last week.

At another neighbouring home, a resident said she was also worried the rodents would try to make their way indoors.

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 the dumpsters.

On Oct. 11, inspectors found the business at 1611 Bank St. wasn’t in compliance with an order to protect a food premises ‘against the entry of pests and kept free of conditions that lead to the harbouring or breeding of pests.’ (Stu Mills/CBC)

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

Dowd said decreasing the population of the colony would require the removal of the den sites and better sanitation around the garbage area, where congealed shortening has pooled on the ground.

Calls to Tim Hortons went unanswered.

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

Ottawa Morning5:27Local rat infestation near Ottawa Tim Hortons

An infestation of rats near an Ottawa Tim Hortons has residents worried the pests will try to move indoors once the weather turns cold. Bill Dowd, President and CEO of Skedaddle Humane Wildlife Control, discusses how rat infestations can start – and what it takes to get them under control.

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