‘It’s debilitating’: High-pitched humming noise from nearby facility affects Victoria neighbourhood

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On hot summer days, Joanne Newell can hear a loud high-pitched humming noise coming from a new long-term care facility from her kitchen.

On hot summer days, Joanne Newell can hear a loud high-pitched humming noise coming from a nearby new long-term care facility from her kitchen — even with the windows shut.

The noise is coming from the equipment on the roof of the Summit on Hillside Avenue in Victoria.

“It’s the kind of noise I just can’t stand listening to and I have to leave,” explained Newell, who lives nearby. “It impacts my work because I hear the noise through the windows into my office, my home office, the garden, the patio, the kitchen.”

The humming began in July, when the facility first opened its doors. It was coming from a chiller on top of the building, Newell said.

“The chillers, when they come on at 18 degrees, emit this high-pitched hum that just is penetrating and as each degree rise in temperature happens, the noise gets louder,” she said.

When temperatures dropped and seasons changed, the sound stopped. But Newell knew she had to do something about it before it came back, so she put up posters around the neighbourhood asking those who had heard the sound to join a list she was compiling.

Soon enough, more than 50 neighbours had reached out to her and joined the list, including Kathy Gillis.

“It’s just like having this constant buzz in the back of your head,” said Gillis. “It’s debilitating. Some people have had the extreme where they needed to go to doctors and have care given by their physicians, but most people just found it a weight on their shoulders.”

It got to the point where neighbours were feeling stressed and anxious all of the time, Gillis added, especially since many people were staying at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The neighbourhood took their concerns to the Capital Regional District (CRD), which owns the building.

In a statement to CHEK News, the CRD said “staff have undertaken several steps to understand and mitigate the noise disturbance,” including decibel testing, tonal adjustments, hiring consultants and appealing directly to the supplier.

Although Newell is glad the CRD is acknowledging the problem and listening to the neighbourhood’s concerns, she’s worried their response is going to be too little, too late.

“My concern is that, come summer, the baby steps won’t have solved the problem,” Newell explained. “So next summer, I can’t repeat last summer… so if it comes down to it… I can’t live here.”

CRD staff will be making recommendations on how to further reduce the humming noise in early January.

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Jasmine BalaJasmine Bala

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