A Toronto property manager has removed a noise-emitting device aimed at curbing loitering, after a complaint was made to the city.
Artis Reit, the company that manages 415 Yonge St. had installed an electronic box to the east side of their building adjacent to McGill Parkette earlier this fall. The machine, called The Mosquito, emits a high-frequency buzzing sound, much like the insect its named after, and is meant to keep people from gathering. The company’s website says their latest model offers two settings – one for people of all ages, and another that can only be heard by people aged 13 to 25.
But John Mah, VP of Asset Management for Artis Reit, says they weren’t just targeting youth.
“This area has a high proportion of transient occupants with no vested interest in the welfare of the community or neighbourhood,” he wrote in an email to CityNews.
Mah cited security as the group’s major concern, pointing to a stabbing in the neighborhood this past December that left 39-year-old Mark Ernsting dead. He says until this week, his company had not received any complaints from area residents.
Questions remain about whether Artis Reit was breaking any by-laws with their machine.
“I don’t think we’ve actually a had an opportunity to deal with this situation before,” says City Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, who represents the ward McGill Parkette falls into.
The park land is owned by Artis Reit and leased out to the city. Wong-Tam says her office received a number of calls this week, but the device was removed before staff could test the sound levels.
Legal or not, the councillor says she’s not a fan of the concept.
“If every single property owner took matters in their own hands and we all start to install these types of devices to deter people from gathering outside public spaces and parks, this would not be a very warm and friendly, welcoming city.”
This isn’t the first time sound has been used to combat loitering in Toronto. The TTC plays classical music at six stations located near high schools in an attempt to keep teens from gathering.