Richmond Hill, long a haven for triskaidekaphobics who fear the number 13, has made a civic offering to tetraphobics who shudder at the thought of four.
The growing GTA community has a multicultural approach to superstition and has banned the number four in new developments. The town began skipping 13 when giving out addresses so long ago that staff can’t remember the year.
In Cantonese and Mandarin, “four” sounds similar to “death.” Because of the number of requests the town receives for address changes, council decided to skip the number going forward in a five-four vote earlier this month.
Numbers like 14 and 24 are still allowed, and people who live in homes marked with a four can apply for a suffix, like 4B.
“It wasn’t the ideal but it was better than nothing was the consensus,” said Councillor Greg Beros, who spearheaded the motion, which he says has been okayed by emergency services. “They weren’t just saying four, they were saying 4A, 4B, although it still has a bit of a stigma of death.”
Lu Han is glad the number won’t be on new homes, but disappointed he can’t be free from its implications.
He bought lot 29 in a new development last year. When he found out the municipal address was 4 last summer, he called his councillor, made a failed deputation at town council, and spoke with his neighbours about making a unified change to the sequence.
“I have to give this guy credit . . . he got everyone but one,” Beros said. “Over 50 per cent of our population was not born in Canada. People come from varying backgrounds and want to help each other.”
According to the 2011 census, of the 184,000 people who live in Richmond Hill, more than 100,000 emigrated from another country. Almost 28,000 are from Hong Kong or China.more