12/11/2012 08:00 EST | Updated 02/10/2013 05:12 EST

Rodents drive B.C. village council away

The mayor, council and village staff of Anmore, B.C., have been driven out of their workplace by rodents that have infested the building's attic.

The elected officials and staff in the community of about 1,800 people northeast of Vancouver have had to move from the hall to a portable trailer after the stench of rat and squirrel urine got to be too much.

“There were times when the smell was just overwhelming,” said Coun.Ann-Marie Thiele.

“Staff would work here eight hours a day, five days a week and they would just go home feeling sick. And as a council member and a resident, I could sometimes go into the building for a few hours and would come away feeling sick myself."

Pest control people were brought in to exterminate rats and evict the squirrels that had been nesting in the attic, but they’ve kept coming back and their urine finally contaminated part of the ceiling.

Workers tried to seal off the vents and isolate the problem but heating made the air quality worse. Now staff are kept out while councillors determine if they will ever be back.

“We have staff in this small trailer and in January, they'll be moving into larger trailers and that will become their semi-permanent offices until we either restore the current building or build a new building,” Thiele said.

The building’s long history is complicating its fate.

It was the home of legendary newspaper founder Ma Murray and her husband George, and an old printing press remains inside.

It's also one of the oldest houses in Anmore, and had served as a museum.

Council now has to weigh the costs of overhauling the building and bringing it up to code as opposed to tearing it down and replacing it.