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May. 28, 2022 | Saturday
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Refrigeration noise not so cool with neighbours
An aerial view of St. David’s Cold Storage, where nearby residents say noise from an air-conditioning unit is causing a bother. (Rene Bertschi/Special)

Some Cannery Park residents are not cool with a large, noisy air-conditioning unit installed outside the St. David’s Cold Storage facility.

The giant warehouse, at 365 Four Mile Creek Rd., serves businesses across the Niagara region by providing freezing services and storing food and wine products in a temperature-controlled warehouse, according to the company’s website. The industrial AC unit is used for refrigeration purposes as well as for cooling the facility.

Chiara Recine, whose house on Dominion Crescent is less than 50 metres from the facility, said she hasn’t slept properly since the cooling unit was installed last August.

“It’s beyond nuisance, it’s annoying. It’s really affected our quality of life,” she said.

The unit makes a loud humming noise when it’s operating. The noise levels fluctuate from time to time but are constant.

Recine said she contacted the Ministry of the Environment, which she said ordered the facility to install a temporary sound barrier. The storage company put two “shipping containers” in front of the unit but it hasn’t helped the situation, she said.

“(The owner) should be allowed to run his business and we should be allowed to have the quality of life that we purchased here,” Recine said. “And all we’re trying to do is work with him to make that happen.”

St. David’s Cold Storage owner Alfred Dyck said the installation of sound panels, which will help mitigate the noise, started last week and it is expected to be completed in the next week or so. 

“It’s unfortunate that things don’t move quicker and we apologize for that,” Dyck said in a phone interview. “But the town has its process and we need to abide by that.” 

Dyck said the town wanted a noise study redone before the sound panels were installed and the town also wanted the study to be peer-reviewed by another sound engineer, so “it’s been a long process.”

The study showed the panels will ensure noise levels meet the decibel standard appropriate for the property, he said.

“We’re a business. If you need another air conditioner in your house, you’d go and put another one in,” he said when explaining the rationale behind installing another unit on the ground in addition to the existing units on the roof.

Some residents on nearby Angela Crescent, such as Richard Pillitteri and Hal Barlow, said they haven’t noticed the noise. Another resident, Tessie Sagala, said the unit can be heard at night when the windows are open. Angela Crescent runs parallel to Dominion Crescent.

“When people are sleeping, it bothers, it’s noisy. Especially when people need their sleep at night,” she told The Lake Report.

One Angela Crescent resident, Ernesto Cisterna, said sometimes he can hear a humming, while another neighbour Gale Forsyth said she noticed a loud noise, which bothered her, but she wasn’t sure if it came from the air-conditioning unit or from construction nearby.

Recine said she knew about the cold storage facility when she moved into the neighbourhood in 2015 but there was no air conditioning unit on the ground at that time.

She praised Coun. Allan Bisback for his help, saying he has been “amazing” and was the only councillor who responded to her concerns.

“He’s been very vocal on the topic with the council,” she said.

Bisback said he’s been contacted by a number of area residents who told him that after they moved in a new cooling unit was added to the site. Bisback said he also visited residents’ homes, and saw and heard the unit for himself.

“All I know is the noise I heard, I think that’s unacceptable,” he said.

During the council meeting on July 15, Bisback made a motion for council to approve the site plan and associated agreement for the facility and for town staff to prepare a report on whether all processes and procedures have been adhered to.

The town’s director of community and development services, Craig Larmour, told council the original site plan did not show the unit on the grounds and the owner needs to apply for a site plan amendment.

Council then approved Bisback’s proposal.

“We’re trying to make sure people are respectful of their neighbours, respectful of their residents. I’m hoping this report will portray both sides to the story,” Bisback said in an interview Tuesday.

Bisback said he doesn’t understand why the new unit was put “on the very back corner (near) the backyards of people,” instead of on the opposite side of the facility.

Dyck said the unit was installed in that area because it’s close to “the room that it services.” He said there are about 10 storage rooms in the facility.

He said “minor amendments” to the site plans are currently underway in response to requests by the town.

“We’re working with the town and we feel it’s a great process,” he said. When asked about the Ministry of the Environment’s order, Dyck said he has “no idea” about it and the ministry hasn’t “done anything with our site.”