Summer means sleepless nights in Burnaby

He Tian says he’s lived in his Hazel Street condo for six years and was never bothered by the A/C at a nearby building until last summer. - Wanda Chow/NewsLeader
He Tian says he’s lived in his Hazel Street condo for six years and was never bothered by the A/C at a nearby building until last summer.
— image credit: Wanda Chow/NewsLeader

While summer means sunshine and great weather, for He Tian and some of the fellow residents at his Metrotown-area highrise, it also means sleepless nights.

Since last summer, those living on the upper floors of their Hazel Street condo tower have faced a dilemma—keep the windows closed and deal with the heat inside, or open them and stay awake from the noise being produced at the Canada Post building next door on Sussex Avenue.

Tian has lived in the building for six years and never noticed the noise until last summer. It's believed the air-conditioner units on the post office's roof is causing the problem, along with the noise of its staff loading and unloading mail early in the morning.

He likened the on-and-off noise as being like a lawn mower. During the day it's hardly noticeable because of the noise of traffic and activity. But at night, that's all they hear.

A video shot at 3 a.m. by Tian's neighbour includes audio of the medium-pitched humming sound, as well as the occasional crashing noise of staff loading and unloading post office trucks.

Not everyone in the building is affected, Tian noted. It's mainly those living on the east side of the building facing the post office, and those on upper floors, where the noise seems to travel to. He's on the 15th floor but a neighbour on the seventh floor said he hasn't noticed any noise.

The hot summer nights when he couldn't sleep affected his health, he said, and it impacted his ability to work at his job as a computer engineer.

He said he and neighbours complained to Canada Post and Burnaby city hall last year, "but nothing really happened."

Dipak Dattani Burnaby's assistant director of engineering for environmental protection, said the city received a noise complaint in September 2011 and while a letter was written to Canada Post, there's not much legally they can do.

Dattani said the city solicitor advised him that Canada Post is an agent of the federal Crown, "so like a railway, it's not subject to any provincial or municipal laws."

A Canada Post official could not find a record of any complaint from last fall, but in response to a NewsLeader inquiry, managed to find a possible solution to the air conditioner noise.

"We have investigated the noise complaint and found that there seems to be a noise coming out of the fan bearings of the air conditioner unit," said Anick Losier, director of media relations for Canada Post, by email. "A mechanic has been tasked with looking into it and hopefully fixing it today (Wednesday). Thank you for bringing this to our attention."

As for the noise from early morning operations, Losier said, We understand the concerns and try to be as respectful to our neighbours as possible and have even pushed our mail drop off time as late as possible.

"Unfortunately, the reality is that we need to get the mail out in a timely manner and we only have a small window early in the morning to do so."

Dattani said city staff would be following up with the supervisor at the postal facility to try and resolve the noise issues.

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