Ashleigh McIvor and Jay DeMerit speak out against noise complaints, neighbours say it's blown out of proportion

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Did they even approach their neighbours about the noise complaints before going to the police and media? Was this completely blown out of proportion?

Vancouver Whitecaps FC captain Jay DeMerit and Olympic gold medalist Ashleigh McIvor have found themselves in the middle of a media storm after The Province newspaper published a front page headline story yesterday detailing allegations of excessive noise emitting from their unit.

The Gastown apartment building they live in has a nightclub at its lower level and is located right next to the highly active Central Waterfront railyard.

Farzad Salehi and his wife share a structural wall with the celebrity-athlete couple who live in the building next door. They claim that loud, late-night parties with music and yelling held after each Whitecaps game victory are disturbing their sleep.

The last straw for the Salehi couple was apparently on Saturday night following their 3-2 win against San Jose, which led the couple to log their noise complaints with Vancouver Police at 3 a.m. on Sunday.

Heather Leitch lives directly above the “problem unit” and has been a neighbour of DeMerit and McIvor for the entire three years they have been in the building.

“I was shocked to see the cover of The Province. I was home the night of the party and got no noise and slept well,” Leitch told Vancity Buzz. “I’ve never heard them be loud, and have no noise issues with any of the units around mine even though I’m noise sensitive.”

“If I had an issue with any neighbour I would have talked to them. I think it’s hostile and immature to write anonymous notes and go to the media.”

Another neighbour also had similar problem-free things to say about DeMerit and McIvor. “They have always been wonderfully generous and considerate to us as neighbours,” Melissa Logie said. “I certainly have never wanted to complain about noise coming from the DeMerits as I have never heard any noise – from neither my suite nor the hallway.”

Logie added that residents need to realize that they live in a noisy neighbourhood filled with nightclubs and noise from street activity.

She also thinks the matter has been “so blown out of proportion,” adding that “it’s something that normally would have been dealt with privately if it weren’t for the fact that they are well-known members of our community.”

A longtime resident who has lived in the building for over 12 years also spoke out in support of DeMerit and McIvor, calling them “down to earth” and “thoughtful” neighbours. She has never had a complaint-worthy issue, apart from a single incident that did not come from any resident.

“It had nothing to do with anyone in this building, rather it pertained to a certain fairly new, neighbourhood pub,” said Pam Johnson. “I have pretty reasonable expectations with regards to noise and condo living. I made the choice to live in a condo, in the city, over busy railway tracks, years ago after all.”

Johnson lives on the same floor near the DeMerit and McIvor unit and maintains she heard nothing on Saturday night and does not recall the Salehi couple reaching out directly to them over the noise complaint issues.

“The couple that I have come to know would have gladly made time to talk with the Salehi’s directly given the opportunity,” she added.

Vancity Buzz also reached out to Ashleigh McIvor to hear her side of the story – that what has been publicized to date could not be further from the truth. See the full interview below:

Were you fined for this recent noise complaint?

No. I spoke with our building manager, who lives below us, and confirmed that there were absolutely no noise complaints for this past Saturday night, nor would there be any fines imposed. I have an email from the managing broker who looks after our building’s strata council confirming the same.

 

 

 

When were you or Jay last fined?

We haven’t had any trouble with fines since the person who used to live directly below us (the one who wrote that note that has now ended up on the cover of The Province) moved out a couple of years ago.

We used to get noise complaints for 4-6 person dinner parties if we were talking past 11 p.m. When the new people moved in, we did a bunch of sound tests with them, to identify a mutually agreeable, reasonable noise level. We decided we’d be proactive after the experience we’d had with the previous neighbour, and that responsible approach has worked very well.

We haven’t had one complaint from them since they moved in 8 or 9 months ago, nor did we have one when that place was vacant before then.

Is this in the media because you and Jay are Vancouver celebrities?

The fact is, Jay and I have experienced success in our sports. We value the influence we have as positive role models as a result of that success – beyond youth in sports, and into encouraging good community values. This is a responsibility that we both take very seriously and that is reflected in the relationships we share with all of our neighbours that were known to us before these people came forward from a different building on Sunday.

It is disappointing to know that one couple can cause such a stir just because we are well known, and the issue is that they went straight to the media before even talking to us, especially when we are both such approachable people. We are also very accessible; our buzzer number was even listed on our building directory, so there would have been many opportunities to let us know if this were an ongoing issue.

What is your relationship like with your neighbours in your building?

We absolutely LOVE living in this building. We are friends with many of our neighbours. There are lots of Whitecaps fans – some who already were, some who we’ve pulled in! We really have made a serious effort to create a nice little community within our building.

Many of the neighbours that we don’t know as well have come forward to say they did not hear any noise on Saturday night, and to offer their support. Some have even tweeted that they’ve never been bothered by us, or that we are good people. Good neighbours.

We are actually known in our own building as being very respectful, conscientious neighbours.

Did you receive any noise complaints from your strata?

I spoke with the building manager first thing yesterday morning, when I heard this story was in the works. He was shocked to hear of this too. He was home on Saturday night and also didn’t hear a thing from our unit. He confirmed with the managing broker that no complaints had been filed, and all strata council members also responded in our defense.

I personally emailed a few other neighbours to inquire about the alleged disturbance and received responses from the woman who lives directly above us, that she hadn’t heard us at all, “not even a peep”, as well as the people who now live directly below us. They hadn’t been bothered in the slightest by anything on Saturday evening.

Also 3 units deep and across the hallway on our own floor. Same responses. The lone complaint has come from a unit in our neighbouring building with which we share a wall (which I assumed would be much more soundproof than the walls within our own building envelope). There are 4 other units within our building that share walls, ceilings or floors with us, and no complaints from any of them.

Are the facts in the recent news story outdated?

Well, first of all… The photo that The Province used from Jay’s Instagram is from 2 years ago, and the note in it and the email quoted in the article were both written by the aforementioned downstairs neighbour, who moved out in 2012.

The way the email is quoted portrays her as a current building resident, and it makes it seem like her complaints are from the past year, when in reality, we have gone to great lengths to ensure compliance with building noise requirements.

Are the quotes in the recent news story used out of context?

We haven’t bothered the people who live in the unit that the complaints used to come from once, although The Province reporters did manage to quote them out of context.

To my knowledge, what was actually said is that they have lived here for nine months and they have only heard us four times. Not four parties.

Then this neighbour mentioned that we live in a noisy building, with a nightclub downstairs and trains that run all night, and said “we shut our bedroom door, turn on the fan and get earplugs. You don’t hear a thing.” The Province used that as if it were in reference to these alleged noisy parties we have.

What is the media’s portrayal of you two in the recent story? Do you feel you two have been vilified?

I feel we have been portrayed as inconsiderate Gastown residents, and nothing could be further from the truth. There has been absolutely no way for us to know that the couple who have come forward with these accusations had ever been disturbed by us at all.

Our neighbours in our own building think we are great. I just ran into 3 more neighbours from our floor who didn’t hear a thing on Saturday night beyond 11 p.m., when they heard us leave the building. This is a very noisy place to live, with the 20+ sets of train tracks and a nightclub just downstairs.

I just heard a few people calling into the Team 1040 radio show, saying that this must have been these neighbours’ ‘last resort’, which is absolutely not the case.

I also heard another caller saying that they know people who live in our building who have been dealing with our noise on an ongoing basis, and that they’ve tried everything from knocking on our door to calling the police- to contacting the Whitecaps.

The fact is, the only people who have complained are the former downstairs neighbours, and they never knocked on our door. They’d just leave hateful notes on our car or our mailbox if we had anybody talking past 11 p.m.

We went so far as to make a no shoes rule, nobody allowed on the balcony, no windows open, and no Bose speaker, which then turned into no music at all when even music from my dinky little MacBook air was apparently disturbing them.

We are not interested in upsetting people or negatively impacting anyones quality of life (or sleep). We had no idea these current complainers could hear anything in the neighbouring building. I just can’t understand why they would go to the media instead of contacting us.

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