Courtenay Costco still generating noise complaints

Courtenay council wants a timeline for Costco's planned sound mitigation work by Monday's council meeting.

Courtenay council wants a timeline for Costco’s planned sound mitigation work by Monday’s council meeting.

The motion came after a report from City staff at Tuesday’s council meeting that outlined the company’s latest plans to reduce noise to the nearby residential neighbourhood.

Elderberry Crescent is located behind the store, and some residents have regularly complained about noise since the store first opened in June 2011.

City director of development services Peter Crawford noted the latest residential complaints came in over the weekend. He also said Costco is still working on the issue.

“They (Costco) continue to express to me in their e-mails, their concern, and how they’re still trying to get resolve to the issue and resolve the noise complaints,” said Crawford.

But, Coun. Doug Hillian said he does not feel the “same appreciative spirit” towards Costco’s efforts to reduce noise.

“This is a problem that’s longstanding,” said Hillian. “It’s been brought to their attention on numerous situations. In May, we passed a resolution essentially asking that we find out what they were prepared to do, and here we are four months later effectively in the same place.”

According to the staff report, Costco had Wakefield Acoustics measure sound on the property on June 20 and 22. In an e-mail to Courtenay staff dated July 16, the store noted it would take four weeks for the recommendations from the sound attenuation specialist, and the three subject areas would be: improvements to sound screening for the rooftop equipment; improvements to the loading dock area; and sound screening around the compactor area.

Costco said it was still analyzing options in an Aug. 7 e-mail to the City, and Crawford noted he received another e-mail last week saying the store was looking into the types of motors in the HVAC condenser units on the building’s roof.

Courtenay fined Costco $500 for breaching the City’s noise section of the public nuisance bylaw at the end of May; 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.

Neighbours had repeatedly complained of early-morning noise — starting between 5 and 5:30 a.m. — as the store received deliveries.

According to Crawford, Costco has not paid the fine because the store is disputing it.

Couns. Ronna-Rae Leonard and Starr Winchester agreed the City should focus on enforcing the noise bylaw to try to resolve the issue.

“I really think the City of Courtenay has been very patient with Costco and I really have sympathy for those neighbours,” said Winchester. “I think we have to step up our enforcement of the noise bylaw.”

Couns. Bill Anglin and Jon Ambler pointed out the noise mitigation work Costco has done to date.

“I do know that walls have been built,” said Ambler, adding, “I know that studies have been done, I know that hours have been changed, I know the parking lot has been reconfigured, I know that shrouding has been put around the HVAC.”

He wanted to know how much money the store has spent on sound attenuation measures so far, which staff did not know.

Coun. Manno Theos suggested the store install sound attenuation measures on all the HVAC units on the roof, as he noted not all of them were covered when he toured the site. He also suggested deliveries be done in the evening rather than in the early morning to avoid disruption.

writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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