British Columbia

Anti-loitering device keeps neighbours up at night

Residents in a New Westminster, B.C., neighbourhood are annoyed by a new method of keeping the homeless away from a nearby commercial building.
Adrian Beer says the Mosquito is so irritating, it keeps him awake at night. ((CBC))

Residents in a New Westminster, B.C., neighbourhood are annoyed by a new method of keeping the homeless away from a nearby commercial building.

Property management at a building at 6th Ave. and 6th St. have installed a device that emits an irritating, high-pitched noise in order to keep the homeless from loitering and sleeping close to the building.

The Mosquito digital device emits its high-pitched frequency from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. Monday to Friday, and all day Saturday and Sunday.

However, the move isn't sitting well with those who live in the surrounding area.

Adrian Beer, who lives on the 19th floor of a nearby apartment building, said the sound has been waking him up at night.

"[It's] very irritating, extremely irritating. I couldn't emphasize the irritating part about it."

Resident slams 'noise pollution'

Beer said there was a visible problem with homeless people gathering around the building, but doesn't see The Mosquito as a solution.

"I agree there is something that needs to be done, because sometimes they can get overaggressive, but I don't think compromising my living conditions is the way to go."

The Mosquito made headlines in B.C. in 2008 when the city of Castlegar installed the device to keep young people from loitering in some areas.

The Mosquito, seen here, emits an irritating, high-pitched buzz. ((CBC))

The first version of the device could only be heard by those under the age of 25, but its latest incarnation has another setting, which can be heard by most people.

Jemima Gerow, who also lives near the building in New Westminster, said it is loud and obnoxious.

"I've noticed the birds don't like it, I've noticed old people coming by holding their ears, [and] one little boy holding his ears and crying because the noise actually hurt his ears," she said.

"I think it's really offensive. People should be able to walk into their community without having to put up with noise pollution."

The city's licensing department said it has received complaints about the Mosquito, and said it might ask the company to remove the device if the noise issues aren't resolved.