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Street address with No. 4 is bad luck?

A Markham couple downsizing for retirement got a rude lesson recently in Chinese numerology.


Graham and Lucie Canning moved into a neighbourhood near Highway 7 and Woodbine Ave. in 1984, when it was “pretty much an Anglo community,” Graham Canning says.


Over the years Chinese restaurants opened, Cantonese lettering appeared on local business signs and the neighbourhood’s ethnic composition shifted to favour people of Hong Kong origin.


Such changes suited the Cannings, who continued to live happily in the area, where they raised a son and daughter. But when they recently prepared their house for sale, a real estate agent delivered a surprise.


In Cantonese, the word “four” is a homonym for “death” — different meanings, same sound — and the Cannings live at No. 4.


“Tetraphobia,” fear of 4, entered their vocabulary.


Having a 4 in the address can lower a home’s value — “Agents estimate anywhere between $25,000 and $35,000,” Graham Canning says.


“That’s about right,” says Derek Wu of Concept 100 Transcanada Realty in Markham, who is not the Cannings’ agent but knows of such sensitivities. “Sometimes people don’t mind but some people would never want to buy it.”


The Cannings want their house number changed.


Last Tuesday, they appeared before Markham’s development services committee, which rejected their request in a 7-4 vote. They are to appeal later this month to the town council.


Since the spring, in an apparently new phenomenon, more than a dozen homeowners have asked to change their address from No. 4, Markham development services commissioner Jim Baird said in an email interview.


Most asked to switch to No. 2 on streets where that number was not used, and those requests were approved, Baird said. Sometimes No. 2 is reserved for a corner lot that ends up using a number from the adjoining street.


The Canning case is different.


In British Commonwealth countries, north and west sides of streets generally carry even numbers, south and east sides odd ones — a logical numbering system that helps guide emergency responders, among others.


The Cannings live on the north side of a short street where houses are numbered evenly 2 to 20. The south side, with fewer houses, uses only Nos.15, 17 and 19. The Cannings are asking for either No. 3 or No. 5.


Such a request would be “a serious departure” from planning criteria, Baird told the committee hearing.


“In no case shall an existing address number be changed so as to conflict with the address-numbering criteria,” Baird’s committee also formally reiterated in September.


The Cannings cited a precedent: Markham council previously approved a change from a No. 4 to a No. 3 near Warden Ave. and Major MacKenzie Dr. E.


“It’s a different situation,” town data-management coordinator Robert Tadmore told the hearing. Only six houses line the street, not 13 as in the Canning’s case.


Not all Hong Kong Cantonese speakers agree that 4 is bad.


“I would never live in a house without the number 4,” says Paul Ng, an authority in the ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, whose Richmond Hill house number is 24.


“From the strict Feng Shui point of view, the number 4 means ‘scholarship,’” says Ng, who often helps developers with building orientation.

Alex Melconian
Sales Representative
RE/MAX Hallmark Realty LTD.
O: 416.494.7653 C: (647) 887-7995
W: www.TorontoRealEstateGTA.com E: Sold@TorontoRealEstateGTA.com

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**Reference The Toronto Star

Published Monday, November 08, 2010 11:35 AM by Alex Melconian

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