A town near Toronto has banned the use of the number four in new street addresses because of its superstitious connotations.
Richmond Hill's town council voted May 15 to avoid using the number in new addresses after residents of the town's Chinese community complained.
Residents are upset because the number four sounds similar to the word "death" in Mandarin and Cantonese. In China, buildings often skip the fourth floor. The fear of four is called tetraphobia.
Town councillor Castro Liu said he had received “non-stop calls and e-mails,” according to YorkRegion.com, about the number four.
“Buyers don’t want to purchase homes with that number," he said.
Homeowners who want to change their house number can opt to change it to 4B, or add another suffix.
Councillor Greg Beros introduced the motion to ban the number from new street addresses following the town's previous move to avoid using number 13, often considered unlucky. The motion passed 5-4, with some councillors raising concerns about emergency response if houses changed numbers.
Councillor Lynn Foster said she witnessed firefighters experience confusion after responding to an incident at 401 Tareyton Rd., which had changed its address to 410.
The problem with four is mostly an “Asian thing,” RE/Max realtor Dennis Chan told the Toronto Star, but he said he tells his clients the house will still sell.
But homeowner Graham Canning isn't convinced. He told the Star he and his wife sought permission to change their house number in 2010 after real estate agents told them it can mean a difference "of between $25,000 and $35,000" in value.
Saskatchewan wireless company SaskTel has also respected the superstition by requesting in 2011 that a proposed new provincial area code be changed to 639 from 474.
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Blame your parents
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Many airports skip the 13th gate.
Airplanes have no 13th aisle.
Italians omit the number 13 from their national lottery.
More than 80% of high rises lack a 13th floor
On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half.
Traditionally in hangings, there are 13 knots in the noose and 13 steps leading up to the moment of death.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy may know that in France, socialites called quatorziens (fourteeners) make themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.
Many say the No. 13 pointed to the ill-fated mission to the moon, Apollo 13.
It's in the cards
Tarot Card number 13 is the Death Card, depicting the Grim Reaper.
Some say that the Babylonian Code of Hammurabi (circa 1780 B.C.E.) is to blame for the No. 13 woes since the 13th law is omitted.