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Labrador City residents fed up with data centre noise

The noise from fans used to keep these servers cool has been the cause for complaints from people who live nearby.
The noise from fans used to keep these servers cool has been the cause for complaints from people who live nearby. - Mike Power

Town exploring 'all options' to resolve issue

LABRADOR CITY, N.L. —

Fed-up residents of Labrador City are venting their frustrations over problematic noise levels caused by cooling fans at a local data centre.

The noise coming from the Great North Data Centre is not a new problem, and the mayor of Labrador City said the town is working to resolve the issue.

This data centre is owned by Great North Data.
This data centre is owned by Great North Data.

“We’ve gave (Great North Data) a deadline to meet our bylaws by mid-July,” said Mayor Fabian Benoit. “They haven’t, so they still have an outstanding stop-work order that they haven’t complied to.

"So right now, we’re exploring our options moving forward to enforce that order. We’ve been monitoring the noise levels since the stop-work order’s been issued. This is why we know they haven’t been in compliance with our stop work order. That’s why we’re pursuing it to the next level.”

The CEO of Great North Data, James Goodwin, said residents won’t have to worry about the noise for much longer.

A local contractor is currently working on replacing the large fans responsible for the loud noise and the job is expected to be completed by September 1.

“All those fans are being decommissioned. Instead we’re putting in smaller fans,” said Goodwin.

“What we found is, by using higher frequency fans, you can’t hear the noise 50 feet away; significantly quieter and the sound doesn’t carry.”

Goodwin said he wanted the work to be done by July, but the local contractor wasn’t available, and Great North Data didn’t want to hire people from outside the community.

“We didn’t want to fly in a crew from elsewhere in the province, because we know people in Lab West appreciate the work. And we talked to the town, and they said that was fine.”

One resident, Dave Saunders, who lives less than a kilometre away from the data centre, compared the noise to a vac truck running out on his driveway.

“We’re lying in bed on a warm night; you can’t open your window. You can’t entertain on the patio because you have to be loud to talk to each other,” said Saunders.

“It’s like if you had a commercial truck on high idle outside your door. That’s what it sounded like.”

Saunders is critical of town council, saying they haven’t been doing enough to enforce Labrador City’s noise bylaws. He accused the town of “dragging their feet” on the issue of noise coming from the business.

“My wife has launched numerous complaints with the town. I don’t know what they’re doing, if they’re dragging their feet or what,” said Saunders.

“They refuse to enforce the noise bylaw…I can’t go outside at two in the morning with music blaring in my neighbourhood because the cops would come by and shut me down. It’s very simple.”

Mayor Benoit said such comments are false and, since Great North Data hasn’t complied with the stop-work order, the town is looking at new options of enforcement, if the noise problem continues.

“I’d like to reassure residents that we are working on it,” said Benoit. “Things don’t move as fast as we hope, but we are moving forward on this issue.”

“There will be steps taken in the near future.”

Benoit said it’s too early to speculate on what future action could look like, but he said the town is exploring “all options” and seeking advice.

derek.montague@thelabradorvoice.ca

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