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Princeton cafe to re-open after rat infestation

Thomasina’s owners called Interior Health when they realized they needed help with rodents

A local cafe that was closed by Interior Health last month due to a rat infestation is ready to re-open this week, according to Jerome Tjerkstra, who operates Thomasina’s with his wife Thomasina Murdock.

Tjerkstra said he knew there were rats in the area about a year ago.

“On one occasion we had some customers saying they were walking by the shop,” he told the Spotlight.

Tjerkstra called a pest control company and was told the measures they were taking were satisfactory. However, the issue persisted.

He contacted a second firm, and through the use of traps and other means believed they were eradicating the rodents. Then the situation seemed to worsen again.

Tjerkstra called Interior Health and explained what was happening.

“Yes, we are the ones who called (for an inspector). I said we needed help.”

Norway rats breed quickly and often, according to Wikipedia. A female can produce up to five litters a year, with a gestation period of only 21 days, and litters can number up to 14.

The health authority closed the cafe so that corrective efforts could be accelerated.

The owners were told to remove all evidence of rodents inside and outside of the building, continue to monitor traps, sanitize the property with bleach and water, and seal or repair all gaps larger than 1/4” in the “building envelope.”

Stainless steel mesh is the material used to secure the exterior of the building.

It’s been a stressful, time-consuming and expensive fix.

“We are 98 per cent there, he said Friday. “We are going to reopen, all being well, sometime this week.”

Tjerkstra said he believes rats are a common problem for property owners in his area.

The structures are old, and the area was seriously impacted by the 2021 floods.

“It’s not like all the rats in Princeton were looking for Thomasina’s and woo hoo, they have a bakery.”

He notified the municipality of the problem.

“I advised the town and the town acknowledged that.”

Mayor Spencer Coyne said rats in Princeton are unrelated to the flood.

“They come to town with freight and from everywhere else,” said Coyne. “Rats have been growing in concentration in the area for seven to eight years.”

The municipality does not have a role in rodent control, he added. “Ultimately it’s private property. It’s the responsibility of the owner of the property. It’s just like your house. You have to set traps every now and again.”

Tjerkstra said he and Murdock are grateful for the encouragement they’ve received from friends and patrons throughout this ordeal.

“People have shown their support while we are going through this…They feel bad for us.”

However, he describes the past few months as “debilitating,” especially after several years of the restaurant industry reeling from the pandemic and travel restrictions.

“This is very costly for us in terms of lost business, contracting the services of a pest control company, as well as the work we have to do to seal this old building,” he said. “In the end, we believe it will be worth it and we look forward to serving our loyal customers again in the days ahead.”

Tjerkstra and Murdock have operated Thomasina’s since 2012.

Andrea DeMeer

About the Author: Andrea DeMeer

Andrea is the publisher of the Similkameen Spotlight.
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