Toronto Music Advisory Council Noise By-Law Review

The City of Toronto continues it’s noise by-law review in the month of February with a critical consultation taking place Feb 17th, 6:30pm – 8:00 pm, Committee Room 1, City Hall.  The deadline for written submissions with expression concerns and recommendations maintains the same date of Feb 17.  

The recommendations in the review have the capacity to majorly affect the live music sector, particularly the decibel level of dbA 45 after 11:00pm 7 days a week.  

We encourage all live music sector stakeholders to participate in the consultation both in person and in writing if possible.  We’ve outlined action items with complete information on our website here:

[TAKE ACTION: Learn how to add your voice in the conversations on noise bylaws in the City of Toronto]

Music Canada Live Member Tracy Jenkins of Lula Lounge presented this statement to the council on Jan 14 as a part of the continuing effort since July 2015:

“My name is Tracy Jenkins. I represent Lula Music and Arts Centre, the music presenter at the west end-venue Lula Lounge on Dundas Street West. I also work with the Dundas West BIA.

At Lula we present primarily jazz, Latin, Brazilian and world music. With the support of Toronto Arts Council, Ontario Arts Council, Heritage Canada and Ontario Tourism, we partner with businesses and area residents to supplement this year round-presenting activity with an annual world music festival. We also offer daytime music and second language educational programs for high school students. We employ about 25 staff and support the work of hundreds of Toronto artists each year.

Lula has been working with the city for many years to support culture and develop our neighbourhood in West End Toronto.  We were founding members of our BIA and contributed many volunteer hours to beautify our streets and build the reputation of our neighbourhood as a vibrant centre for music and other arts. Our BIA’s original visioning study funded by the city’s economic development department, consulted with community stakeholders including residents who identified music (and diversity of culture) as characteristics that distinguishes and enriches our neighbourhood. We also worked with the city to commission avenue study for our neighbourhood to encourage density and attract residents and visitors to our area which continues to have a music and arts focus.

We are confident that the identification of our neighbourhood as one rich in musical culture has aided its development. For example, the new condo complex at our nearest corner features images of musicians and our logo in their advertising. We’ve frequently seen real estate listings that boast that properties are close to our venue.

We have never been charged with a noise violation and always take an approach of working with our neighbours to resolve problems when there is any kind of concern about our business. The owners and most managers of the venue are also residents of the area, living within a couple of blocks of where we work.

We recognize the need for objective limits on noise leakage from venues but we are concerned that the 45 dBa is below even the background noise level on our busy street and may make it difficult for us to comply. We urge you to take the time to ensure that proposed decibel limits are realistic and take into account factors that might affect the readings such as humidity and the location of the reading. We also believe that there should be some allowance for established, historical venues that pre-existed new developments in close proximity. Someone buying a condo on a busy mixed-use street next, to an established music venue, restaurant or nightclub should be prepared to accept some reasonable level of noise.

There needs to be a recognition of the contribution of existing venues to the the cultural life and economy of the city.  Our concern is that by laws that have unrealistic dBa limits, high fines and no appeal or resolution process may put responsible venue operators  in an antagonistic relationship with the city. Up until now Lula as been able to see itself as co-operating with the municipal government to contribute to the quality of life that Toronto offers. We want to continue that fruitful and productive relationship.

We would urge the city to ensure that the bylaws are balanced, realistic and recognize the importance of music to the economic and cultural life of Toronto.”