Singing, dancing, and music, oh my!
London City Council unanimously approved decisions that would grant bar and restaurant owners temporary and renewable permits to allow amplified sound and dancing on patios. The music must be no louder than 70 decibels and must end at midnight (at the latest).
“What we’re not doing is just allowing people to just crank it up as loud as they want for as long as they want.” Ward 4 councillor Jesse Helmer explained.
Council also lifted a zoning bylaw banning amplified sound and dancing on the patios.
Ward 13 Councillor Tanya Park said some constituents in her area did not want the zoning bylaw amended. “They felt like it was the strong baseline of how we’re going to deal with sound downtown, but looking at the staff recommendation and looking at the way the ONB (Ontario Noise Bylaw) really works, it just wasn’t appropriate to be there.”
The Community and Protective Services Committee and Planning and Environment Committee also unanimously approved the motions.
The effects of old rules…
Previously, some patios were allowed to have amplified sound, while others nearby could not because of zoning.
Scarfone said that a patio “could be dull at times” if it lacks atmosphere. He wanted to see music on patios.
“Our summer season is short, so it’s not like it would affect it all year long.”
Wink’s Eatery owner Adam Winkler said the pub’s patio had a decibel reading done. Evergreen trees surround the patio, but Winkler said they only filter out so much sound.
“It’s all about having a right balance between working well with your neighbours and the surroundings around you to keep everyone happy.”
He wasn’t sure what the previous zoning rules for music on the patios were.
“We just kind of went with everyone else and didn’t do it. If we did do it for a special event, we unplugged everything by 11 o’clock.”
Meeting a balance…
Taylor Holden, a local folk musician, said allowing music and dancing on the patios would promote the music industry.
“London’s got such an incredible music/arts scene but sometimes, it feels like people need to really look for it,” Holden said, “being able to have music on patios means people that are just walking around downtown might find out about an artist they didn’t know existed.”
But, there’s another side to the argument. A downtown resident, who requested to stay anonymous, is concerned about the sound levels.
“All my windows in my apartment look onto a club in the downtown and their patio,” the resident said, “even with my windows closed, the music was so loud it sounded like I was blaring it in my apartment, I could hear every lyric and the people screaming and fighting.”
The resident is also concerned about a lack of sleep, because crowds leave between 2am and 3am.
“If I am going to be kept awake till 2-3am, only to be woken up at 7am when the garbage trucks come in the morning I will be living on 4 hours of sleep. [I’m] not going to able to survive on that amount of sleep and as a result I will probably move out of the downtown, which I really don’t have the time or money to do.”
It’s about compromise.
The resident wants to see an agreement reached between businesses and downtown residents.
It was clear where London stood in terms of amplified sound on patios during two public participation meetings. On one hand, the music community supported it. On the other hand, downtown residents felt concerned.
Ryan Schroeyens, president of sales for the PA Shop, attended both meetings.
His family is heavily involved with London’s music community. He supports music on the patios and understands residents’ concerns.
“As Londoners, we all need to find a way to work together. It doesn’t mean that either side is always going to be right or wrong.”
So, what’s next?
London Music Officer Cory Crossman said The London Music Office is producing guidelines for live music on patios.
The London Music Office also explained what council’s decision means.
“[The] last thing we want to do is force something that’s so one-sided, we’re going to have issues,” Crossman said, “that’s what the focus of this has been, to create harmony between residents and the industry.”
Crossman said the the Live Music Guide and the Good Neighbours guide will be available to the public on the London Music Office website when ready.
Featured photo by Emily Stewart / via JoeKools.ca