What is happening?
Currently, the city-wide zoning bylaw prohibits "amplified or electronic music (whether performed live or recorded), dancing or other forms of entertainment" on patios associated with restaurants and taverns, with the exception of "non-amplified acoustical music."
As part of the music, entertainment and culture district strategy approved by city council on 21 March 2017, an amendment to the zoning bylaw to remove this prohibition will be coming forward to a future public participation meeting at planning and environment committee.
Update on 31 May 2017: the staff report recommending removal of the prohibition of amplified music, dancing and other forms of entertainment is now available. This report will be considered at planning and environment committee on 6 June.
There is a related staff report on temporary noise permits, which proposes a 70dbA maximum (measurement locations to be flexible, with a focus on sound-sensitive locations) and a time limit of midnight. This report will be considered by community and protective services committee on 5 June.
Why remove the prohibition from the zoning bylaw?
The existing prohibition prevents most restaurant and bar owners from having any kind of amplified music, dancing or other entertainment on their patios (other than acoustical music). Some restaurant and taverns owners, however, are allowed to do so because they did so before this prohibition was added to the zoning bylaw. They are grandparented.
The city regulates noise through the noise bylaw, which includes this general prohibition: "No person shall make, cause or permit an unreasonable noise, or a noise that is likely to disturb the inhabitants."
Rather than doubly-regulating sound on patios in both the zoning and noise bylaw, I believe we should remove the prohibition on amplified music, dancing and other forms of entertainment from the zoning bylaw and regulate noise in the noise bylaw.
I understand the concerns of residents who live close to restaurants and bars with patios. But I believe we can allow this kind of activity on patios while regulating noise through the noise bylaw.
We attempted to pilot this change in downtown and Old East Village last summer, but the zoning change was appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board. The temporary suspension of this part of the zoning bylaw expired before the OMB heard the appeal.
Proposed changes to the noise bylaw will be coming forward to a future meeting of strategic priorities and policy committee.
How can I help?
If you'd like to allow all restaurants and bars to have the option of amplified music, dancing or other forms of entertainment on patios, please sign this petition and spread the word to your friends and colleagues. You may also want to e-mail Chuck Parker, the planner on the file, at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or members of the planning and environment committee at email@example.com.