Planning & Housing Committee
Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
Dear Members of Planning and Housing Committee,
Re: PH8.2 – Recommended Amendments to Zoning By-laws for Bars, Restaurants and Entertainment Venues as part of the Night Economy Review – Final Report
ABC Residents Association (“ABCRA”) is an incorporated volunteer body that has been in existence since 1957. ABCRA represents the interests of residents who live in the area between Yonge Street and Avenue Road and Bloor Street to the CPR tracks.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on the recommended amendments to City-wide Zoning By-law 569-2013, and all Former General Zoning By-laws, as amended, as it relates to zoning regulations for bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues. We understand the need and advantages and indeed support a vibrant night economy for Toronto but not at the loss of healthy liveable communities for its residents. This important balance can be achieved as we see in Austin and Vancouver but it is not yet met in the staff recommendations before you.
We have significant concerns about the proposed expanded ancillary use of eating establishments, especially in commercial residential zones and the expanded permitting of nightclubs. Neither this report, nor the report that went to the Economic Development Committee proactively outline how the City will mitigate the increase in noise for residential areas expected with these changes.
We take issue with categorization that noise complaints from eating establishments or nightclubs that play music are only a nuisance. This minimizes and dismisses the very real concerns of many residents that participated in the consultations. In fact, the medical officer of health is on record saying that there are adverse health impacts to environmental noise, ranging from hearing loss, cardiovascular impacts, mental health, sleep disturbances, and cognitive decline.
While increasing the permitted maximum area an eating establishment can be used for entertainment to 25 percent of the interior floor area of the premises has clear benefits to the operators, without corresponding enforcement and regulation of the increased noise, these changes risk significantly impacting residents.
The Licensing, Enforcement, and Complaints Data report included with EC8.13 – Recommended Amendments to Chapter 545, Licensing for Bars, Restaurants, and Entertainment Venues indicates that the vast majority, up to 73%, of licensing complaints and charges come from eating establishments. Making them bigger and allowing them in more parts of the city adjacent to residents will not fix that.
We are aware that this report does not deal specifically with the licensing changes, however the report has to be understood in conjunction with EC8.13, and both reports should be considered together with the City’s revised Noise bylaw.
During the staff presentation for EC8.13, City Staff confirmed that they anticipate this will increase the number of licenses but have no plans to change the present enforcement resources. This problem cannot be solved through the adoption of unenforceable noise control plans.
As part of the proposed changes to Chapter 545, the only mitigation strategies are noise control plans. While we support the concept of Noise Control Plans, we must note that the noise control plans are being conceived of before the Noise By-law Implementation Review is completed.
How can staff or residents be confident that the noise control plans, as they are currently envisioned, will have the desired impact until we have updated the Noise implementation review. The results of the Noise Implementation Review review needs to be completed before approving any zoning changes.
To give residents confidence that these zoning changes will not have adverse impacts, rather than allow the operator to determine how and where they will monitor noise, we believe that there should be specific details prescribed in the control plans that include accepted noise levels, rules about where and how to record noise, and clear restrictions on hours of operations.
This is consistent with areas like Vancouver that include specific clear definitions and noise level rules for restaurants and entertainment types. eg.
“Restaurant – Class 1” means the use of premises for the primary purpose of selling and serving prepared food to the public during all hours of operation, where the premises include at least 17 indoor or outdoor seats for customers consuming food purchased on the premises, and where live entertainment, including the use of non-amplified or amplified musical instruments and disc jockey mixing turntables, but excluding patron participation such as karaoke, dancing and open microphone performing, may be available.
“Restaurant – Class 2” means the use of premises for the primary purpose of selling and serving prepared food to the public during all hours of operation, where the premises include at least 17 indoor or outdoor seats for customers consuming food purchased on the premises, and where live entertainment, including the use of non-amplified or amplified musical instruments and disc jockey mixing turntables and patron participation such as karaoke, dancing and open microphone performing may be available.
Specific Noise Levels and rules about where and how to measure them included in the Noise Control Reports:
12A. Despite anything to the contrary in this By-law, after 9 a.m. and before 1 a.m., a person in a Restaurant – Class 1 or Restaurant – Class 2 must not make, cause or permit to be made or caused continuous or non-continuous noise or sound from live entertainment that exceeds an interior rating of 90 decibels (90 dBA) Leq over a three minute time period on an approved sound meter when measured within the restaurant at a distance of two metres, and at a height of 1.2 m above the floor, from an exterior or common or party wall.
Finally, we would also like to note that this report and the zoning by-law review for bars, restaurants and entertainment venues consist of hundreds of pages. These are dense reports and we do not feel that one week is adequate time to properly review and make recommendations. These changes will have significant impacts for residents and they should have enough time to review and understand them.
Therefore, we recommend that the committee defer this item so as to finalize the Noise by-law implementation review and review options to adequately resource and empower By-law Enforcement Officers (BEOs) to intervene on problematic establishments.
We believe this is a necessary step to ensure that residents across the city can feel confident that the time and resources that went into this review will have a meaningful impact.
The ABC Residents Association,
Ian Carmichael and John Caliendo,