City of Courtenay fines Costco for being too noisy

COSTCO PLANS TO IMPLEMENT the above measures for further sound attenuation due to concerns from nearby residents. It received a $500 fine from the City of Courtenay for breaching the City
COSTCO PLANS TO IMPLEMENT the above measures for further sound attenuation due to concerns from nearby residents. It received a $500 fine from the City of Courtenay for breaching the City's noise section of the public nuisance bylaw Thursday.
— image credit: Photo submitted

The City of Courtenay has put its foot down on Costco's early-morning noise.
City director of legislative services John Ward told the Record Courtenay issued a $500 fine to Costco for breaching the City's noise section of the public nuisance bylaw Thursday.
"This (fine) is based on witness statements for the early morning of May 24, 2012," said Ward. "The City continues to monitor the situation daily."
Courtenay's decision to fine Costco came after the matter was brought up at Tuesday's council meeting by Coun. Doug Hillian.
He noted he's received regular complaints from three area residences regarding noise from the store.
At Tuesday's council meeting Ward confirmed Courtenay recently asked Costco not to make noise before 7 a.m., as the noise section of the public nuisance bylaw states noise — which disturbs the peace, quiet, rest, enjoyment, comfort or convenience of a neighbourhood — cannot be made between 8 p.m. and 7 a.m.
"At this point staff had expected some sound attenuation work to be done; it hasn't been done," director of legislative services John Ward told Courtenay council at Tuesday's meeting. "We have requested in writing that Costco not make any noise prior to 7 a.m. which is the bylaw requirements.
"If the work solves the problem, or if the neighbourhood still feels they're being disturbed that will determine the next steps of the City."
According to a letter dated May 21 from Costco to the City of Courtenay, Costco engaged an acoustic engineer in 2010 and built a noise attenuation fence along the northern property line. After further discussions, Costco increased the fence height from two metres to 3.6 meters before the store opened last June.
Last July the company obtained another acoustical report, which recommended the installation of screening around its rooftop condenser units, which Costco completed. The report also suggested building another wall along the loading dock which is close to residences on Elderberry Crescent.
The letter stated this should be complete in 2.5 to three weeks. Costco also said it would adopt different operational measures directing trucks away from area of the property close to nearby residences, and plans to obtain another acoustical report when the work is complete.
Shelly Lesperance-Farndon is a nearby resident who has complained of noise regularly. She and her husband Doug Farndon often wake up around 5 a.m. to the sound of delivery trucks at Costco, and she noted many of her neighbours still consider the noise a problem.
Lesperance-Farndon's property is located on Elderberry Crescent directly behind Costco's loading zone.
She and her husband first raised concerns about Costco being built near their home in 2009 — the Costco property was rezoned for commercial use in late 2009.
She said they put up with construction noise, and since Costco opened nearly a year ago, have been listening to noise outside of acceptable bylaw hours.
In an e-mail she sent to Ward Thursday she outlined the different noises they heard Thursday morning starting just after 5 a.m. She said these noises, such as back-up beepers, air break sounds and various unloading noises — happen regularly at this time in the morning.
"This is ridiculous that we have to put up with this," she and her husband wrote in the e-mail. "Costco is not following the directive they were given by council to not have delivery trucks arrive, or unload trucks, or make noise before 7:00 a.m." 
Costco declined to comment on the matter, but the letter states the company must start receiving its daily deliveries no later than 5 a.m. so unloading is complete and forklifts are out of the sales area before the store opens.
Courtenay council unanimously passed a motion from Hillian to request a staff report to update council within the next two months on the success of Costco's plans for further noise attenuation measures.
Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard noted council's decision regarding noise at Costco is timely with other development happening nearby such as Thrifty Foods.
"It's an important message that's being sent around this table that we do have an expectation that our noise bylaw will be accommodated in this commercial development," said Leonard. "These kind of conflicts are going to come up, and they're going to come up in many different ways, and if we can get a good handle on it and hold everybody's feet to the fire to make sure that they do right to be neighbourly, that will go a long way to creating a very livable community."

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