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High-pitched hum from Victoria long-term care home helps spur noise bylaw change

Noise from community care facilities will no longer be exempt from bylaw rules
Air conditioning units atop The Summit at Quadra Village on Hillside Avenue have been the source of a hum that some nearby residents say is making life at home miserable in summer. The hum has now contributed to a change coming to Victoria’s noise bylaw. (Photo dHK Architects)

When Victoria’s updated noise bylaw is finalized, it will no longer include an exemption for decibels coming from community care facilities.

The city is in the midst of reviewing and having staff prepare updates to the bylaw, which has seen few changes in the last 20 years.

As it stands, the current bylaw includes an exemption for “sound or noise” coming from the premises of community care facilities licensed under B.C.’s Community Care and Assisted Living Act, or similar institutions.

Residents who live near The Summit at Quadra Village have been complaining about a high-pitched hum coming from the long-term care home’s rooftop chiller unit during warmer months since 2020.

Victoria councillors on Thursday (Feb. 17) unanimously voted in favour of ditching the care facility exemption once the bylaw is updated. Couns. Ben Isitt and Stephen Andrew brought the proposal forward, citing the experience of those who live around The Summit.

READ: Victoria neighbours say high-pitched building hum continues despite muffler installation

The councillors’ motion said residents being protected from unreasonable noise is essential to their health, mental health, well-being and quality of life. Prior to the vote, Isitt told Black Press Media that people have sold their homes over the hum issue.

“I’ve received many, many complaints from residents who, after living in the neighbourhood for decades, are having trouble just enjoying their home,” Isitt said.

“I do support health facilities, but I think they have to operate in a way that doesn’t negatively impact people’s quality of life.”

Stop the Summit Noise, a citizen advocacy group of 65 nearby households, said in a submission to council that the pervasive hum disrupts their ability to work and rest, and has led to them minimizing their time outdoors.

“It is heard inside homes, even with windows closed. Many of us are considering selling our homes and moving to preserve our mental health and quality of life.

“We are long-time residents of the area and are not bothered by other sources of city noise.”

– with files from Jane Skrypnek

READ: Up to $50,000 set aside to further investigate hum in Victoria neighbourhood

READ: Victoria councillors to get an earful on outdated, ineffective noise bylaw

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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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