Centre Wellington plans to institute termite eradication program

ELORA – Centre Wellington council will take action on termites.

On April 24, CAO Dan Wilson presented council with two options: continue with a passive approach to termites, essentially leaving it up to homeowners to deal with termites on their own, or take a proactive stance and hire a company to take a more holistic approach to eradicating termites on public and private property.

A termite survey in 2020 identified 119 properties in Elora and 140 in Fergus with active termites, described in the survey as the “red” zone.

Adjacent to the red zone is the blue zone, where termite activity is possible and removal of termite habitat is recommended.

There are 132 properties in Elora and 87 properties in Fergus in blue zones, so 478 of the 12,500 households in Centre Wellington are impacted.

Former councillors Ian MacRae and Kirk McElwain delegated to council, each asking councillors to support the pro-active option.

MacRae said leaving it up to homeowners “locks (them) into perpetual termite costs.

“Your neighbours’ termites will become your termites,” he added.

McElwain said the termite population has doubled since 2009, when he began to take notice of the problem.

He said Health Canada has just approved a new termite treatment that might make a local termite program more affordable and effective.

Fergus resident Tammy Rutherford has been vocal about termites for years.

She said homeowners spend tens of thousands of dollars on termite abatement, but termites eventually return.

She suggested it might cost 94 cents per household per month to fund a termite eradication program – money well spent if it solves the problem, she said.

Wilson said in 2020 the council of the day directed staff to issue an RFP for termite control but there were only two responses and the contract was not awarded.

The City of Guelph and Township of Woolwich both instituted eradication programs to great success, but also great expense.

Wilson estimated it could cost Centre Wellington $1 million over five years and said it would result in a 1% increase to the 2024 budget.

Mayor Shawn Watters noted that having around 4% of Centre Wellington’s housing stock infiltrated with termites would have a $300 million impact on the community.

“Two councils have dealt with this for a long time,” he said. “We haven’t got a handle on this.”

In the end, council voted unanimously to put out an open-ended RFP, where the successful candidate will guide and advise the township on how best to approach the problem.