Courtenay council split about Costco noise measures

Courtenay council will wait until early December to hear more about Costco's noise-mitigation measures.

Courtenay council will wait until early December to hear more about Costco’s noise-mitigation measures.

But, not all councillors want to wait that long.

Council received a report from Costco earlier this week, which outlined sound-mitigation measures it has implemented to date, what those measures cost, and what further work it plans to do.

Council was somewhat divided as to whether the report — which was requested by council at the Sept. 4 meeting — was adequate or whether Costco should be asked to come before council as a delegation in the near future.

Coun. Doug Hillian wanted to hear from Costco soon.

“They’ve taken our request seriously here; they’ve provided information. They’ve spent a significant amount of money, but unfortunately it hasn’t addressed all the problems,” said Hillian, adding Costco coming as a delegation would be a gesture of goodwill, and “it also gives the people who live in the neighbourhood an opportunity to hear from them directly which is really what should happen in a situation like this.”

Since the store opened over a year ago, some nearby residents have complained of noise from the company, particularly early-morning noise, (starting as early as 5 to 5:30), as the store receives its deliveries. Some homes on Elderberry Crescent are located close to the store’s loading zone.

Costco’s report noted the company has spent $265,000 on a perimeter wall, loading dock wall, roof sound shield and related architectural and engineering costs.

However, after a request for clarification from Coun. Ronna-Rae Leonard, City director of development services Peter Crawford confirmed the perimeter wall ($73,000) was a requirement of the development permit, not an additional cost to mitigate noise.

According to the report, Costco will also install variable frequency drives on its roof-top condenser equipment ($55,000) by the end of November. The fans on the equipment currently have an on/off switch, meaning they can only run at full speed when on, and the addition would allow them to run more quietly.

The store also plans to replace the sound absorbing material on its roof shield, but there is no cost estimate yet. Finally, Costco is looking into enclosing its compactor area and a feasibility analysis is expected Oct. 30.

The company ended the report by saying it takes the concerns seriously and offered to come before council as a delegation.

Leonard said she did not see morning noise addressed in the report and noted that issue is what she hears complaints about.

Crawford pointed out “all operations of this nature have trucks delivering.”

Coun. Jon Ambler said noise is “very, very subjective” and Costco has spent a significant amount of money, which shows it’s making an effort.

“We have to have a reasonable expectation of what can be done to mitigate the noise and to my mind Costco has taken more than reasonable measures,” he said.

Mayor Larry Jangula agreed, adding there’s no proof Costco is in violation of the City’s noise bylaw.

“We have to also bear in mind that there’s no proof that any of these sounds or any of these business noises are actually even in violation of the bylaw, of the noise bylaw,” he said. “We’ve had e-mails from lots of neighbours that live on Elderberry (Crescent) that have no concerns; they don’t hear the sounds, so I mean it does affect some, it doesn’t affect them all.”

Costco was fined $500 by the City for violation of the noise bylaw at the end of May, which the company is disputing.

Hillian made a motion to invite Costco to come as a delegation in the near future. The motion was defeated with Hillian, Leonard and Coun. Manno Theos in favour.

Ambler then made a motion to have Costco come before council in early December after the work is completed. It was carried unanimously.

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