Greg Beros, the councillor who presented the motion, told Carol Off of CBC's As It Happens that "the number 4 in different Chinese cultures, the Asian culture, in their language it sounds like the word death, and that has a very bad connotation for them."
Beros said that over the years "a number of people" have come to local officials seeking address changes to avoid the number 4. That wasn't often possible, Beros said, though sometimes people were able to make changes if there was a gap in the numbering.
- Listen to this interview and others on the CBC's As It Happens
The councillor said that over 50 per cent of the population in the town north of Toronto was not born in Canada.
"We are a caring community, we listen to the needs of our residents," he said, noting that council had previously removed the number 13.
For now, the new system applies only to "the singular 4" Beros said, noting that 14, 24, 44, were still eligible.
Not all the councillors supported the change.
"Choice is something that we should hold dear. If you have made a choice to buy a 4, well you made that choice in a clear conscience," Beros said. "If you decided that you did not want to buy a house with a certain number, you should have that choice available to you."