Problems w. bars in your area? Here are some tips.

A lot of people in Toronto have problems w. nearby bars, but don’t know what they can do, what rights they have, or how to proceed. Here are some tips and some information

First Step: Talk to the bar

Lots of people endure noise from nearby bars, but never take the time to let the bar know that there’s a problem. Your first step should always be to talk to the bar. If there’s an ongoing problem, try and get in touch w. the owner and/or manager, and explain the problem to them. You may think they’re *trying* to upset you, but more likely, they don’t even realize there’s a problem. In many cases, just making this initial communication can help a lot. When you first get in touch, try to assume the best, and approach them with a positive attitude. You may be surprised to learn they’re more interested than you thought in being good neighbours, but never knew there was a problem.

Talk to other neighbours

You may also want to talk to your neighbours to see if other people share your concerns. This can make your case more compelling, both to the bar, and to the city.

If you can hear music from a bar in your home after 11:00, they are in violation of the noise bylaw

The Toronto noise bylaw states that, after 11, if someone’s music of amplified sound is audible in your home after 11:00 pm, then that are in violation of the noise bylaw.

Some things to note:

  • A liquor licence does not provide an exemption from this bylaw. Bars are subject to the bylaw, just like anyone else.
  • The bylaw applies no matter where you live. The fact that you live downtown, or in a mixed-commercial/residential area doesn’t mean you’re not protected by the bylaw.
  • The bylaw doesn’t say that the music has to be loud in your home to constitute a violation, just audible. And it applies even if your windows are open.

Basically- if a bar plays music at night, it is their responsibility to ensure you can’t hear it in your home, by keeping the levels down, by keeping their doors/windows closed, or by installing sound insulation if they want to play very loud music.

(Get the full noise bylaw here)

Enforcement of the noise bylaw is pretty bad, but here’s what you can do

If a bar is making noise, and you’d approached them, but the situation has not gotten better, you can try to get the noise bylaw enforced.

While Toronto does have a noise bylaw, the enforcement of the law is pretty terrible.

Technically, the police are responsible for enforcement of the noise bylaw. To make a noise complaint, call them at 416-808-2222. (Don’t call 911, which is only for emergencies). Note that a lot of the time they won’t come, or they’ll take a long time. Worse, sometimes they will come and, based on a misunderstanding of the noise bylaw, tell the owners that their noise levels are okay. But often, a visit from police will persuade a bar to turn the music down.

If there is an ongoing noise problem, you can also file a noise complaint against the establishment. Email mlsnoisetey@toronto.ca. They will provide you the information for documenting an ongoing noise problem, and what you can to do try and get enforcement. (Again – MLS are not always so effective).

You can also try emailing your local city councillor and asking for help. If you are not sure who your councillor is, check out this page. If you have a few neighbours who share your concern, you might want them all to get in touch w. the councillor. Your councillor will likely see the problem as more serious if more people get in touch.

Strict regulations apply to sidewalk patios

If a bar or restaurant has a sidewalk patio on a “residential flankage”, there are strict regulations that usually apply under the city’s boulevard café bylaw. Among these:

  • The patio must be closed and cleared (with no-one drinking or eating) by 11:00 pm.
  • There may not be any outdoor music at any time. No speakers. No acoustic music.
  • Similarly, there can’t be music or other amplified sound (tv, etc) played inside with the doors or windows propped open.
  • The establishment has to clean up the patio and the area around it, at least once a day.

There is some enforcement of these regulations. If an establishment near you is violating these regulations, and you’ve talked to them about it to no avail, you can try to get the regulations enforced. The Municipal Licensing office often will try to ensure that patio regulations are followed.

To find the relevant licensing address for your area, send an email to accesstoronto@toronto.ca

The Alchohol and Gaming Commission are in charge of liquour licences

If a bar is violating terms of their liquour licence, you can get in touch with the AGCO and let them know.

Note that the AGCO is in general not very responsive to complaints about noise caused by bars. But they are responsive to complaints about bars that serve after closing time, or are filled beyond capacity, or allow customers to take drinks outside, or any of a host of other violations.

Note, too: There is a specific clause in the Liquor Licence Act which states that noise from outdoor licences shouldn’t disturb neighbours. So noise from a rooftop patio, for instance, might elicit some response from the AGCO.

You can contact the AGCO at Licensing@agco.on.ca

Other people share your concerns. Get in touch.

The Queen/Beaconsfield Residents Association is especially interested in hearing from people who live around West Queen West and have problems with bars. We would like to help. But we also see the poor management of nightlife in Toronto as a city-wide issue, so we’re interested, too, in hearing from people in other areas. Email us at QueenBeacRes@gmail.com – we might be able to help.

There’s also great information at the web site of the King/Spadina Residents Association

And most important, try to get in touch with your own neighbours. You can get a lot more done working with the people who live around you.

29 Responses to “Problems w. bars in your area? Here are some tips.”

  1. Welcome to the QBRA blog « Queen/Beaconsfield Residents Association Says:

    […] posted a short introduction to our group. We’ve also posted some tips about what you can do if you have problems with bars in your area. We hope to add more […]

  2. Andrew Says:

    Would this bylaw apply to someone who lives above a bar?

  3. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    Andrew – yes, the noise bylaw applies to someone who lives above a bar.

    The idea, I think, is that if the bar chooses to operate in a space with a residential neighbour upstairs, it’s up to the bar to keep their music in the bar, by keeping levels down, or by installing sound insulation, or by some combination of the two.

  4. Graham Says:

    Anyone else having a problem with the Cock & Tail?

    We’ve spoken to the manager a while back, but they were going ’till past 1 yesterday and 2 on Friday.

  5. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    > Anyone else having a problem with the Cock & Tail?

    My understanding is that the previous tenant who lived above the bar had to move out because of the noise levels.

    > We’ve spoken to the manager a while back, but they were
    > going ’till past 1 yesterday and 2 on Friday.

    Do you mean the music from inside the bar was audible in your apartment at those hours? If so – that’s a violation of the noise bylaw.

  6. Graham Says:

    You could actually hear the applause (the band was pretty good).

    Am I wrong in my assumption that they’re responsible for the patrons in front of their establishment? (especially since they offer a bench and often hang out there themselves)

  7. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    > You could actually hear the applause (the band was pretty good).

    Yoiks.

    The noise bylaw very specifically says you shouldn’t be able to hear music or amplified sound in your apartment.

    Oddly, it doesn’t cover sounds make by people, so the applause isn’t as clear a violation of the bylaw.

    Curious: Do you live directly above the bar?

    > Am I wrong in my assumption that they’re responsible for the
    > patrons in front of their establishment? (especially since they
    > offer a bench and often hang out there themselves)

    It’s a bit of a gray area. Many bars in the neighbourhood, when applying for licences, specifically agreed to conditions saying that they’d take responsibility for the patrons directly outside their establishment. The C&T owners did not agree to make such a promise. So it might be hard to make any sort of case, except if things are very consistently bad.

    Have you talked to the owners about any of these concerns? How have they responded?

    One thing I can tell you – The licence for the C&T specifically states “Windows must be kept shut and doors equipped with a self-closing device in order to contain noise within the building.” It seems like they often keep their front door propped open, which would seem to be a violation of this condition. Would it help you at all if they kept that front door closed?

  8. Graham Says:

    We’re actually a couple of doors down, so I can’t imagine how it is to live above them. According to the manager, we’re the only people who have spoken to them about the noise. We’ve now talked to the manager twice. She said they would keep the front door shut and put a sign in the front to ask their patrons to keep it down. I hope it works better that it did last night. I think the next people I’ll talk to are the police.

    Where did you get the info on the licence?

  9. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    > According to the manager, we’re the only people who have
    > spoken to them about the noise.

    Do they mean just on the specific times you’ve spoken to them? I’m pretty sure you’re not the only person who’s spoken to them about noise from the bar.

    > She said they would keep the front door shut

    Again, it’s worth noting that this is specifically required by their licence.

    > I think the next people I’ll talk to are the police.

    They’re the people who are officially in charge of enforcing the noise bylaw. They don’t always do a great job. You can also try the noise control office. Police are best for dealing with specific one-time problems; noise control is best for documenting ongoing problems. All the contact info is above, on this page.

    > Where did you get the info on the licence?

    Licence info is meant to me a matter of public record, but it’s actually pretty hard to get. I think you’d have to file a Freedom of Information request with the AGCO, which involved a fee and a delay of several weeks.

    In the case of the cock and tail, there was a public hearing when they applied, and the residents group was directly involved, so we got copies of the hearing report.

    I posted it here for you:

    http://queenbeac.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=25

  10. Paul t. brooks Says:

    Is there anything that can be done about the steady stream of delivery vehicles that park on the sidewalks alongside the Drake or Beaconsfield (on Beaconsfield)? Neither of these areas are designated loading zones, so the sidewalks are often impassable and the lanes or street are sometimes blocked to public traffic.

  11. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    Paul – Have you talked to the Drake about this? That’s probably a good first step. Do you think there’s something they could do differently to reduce the impact of those deliveries?

  12. Paul t. brooks Says:

    I haven’t discussed it with the Drake because I’m uncertain that I can suggest a solution. Or is the onus on them to come up with one? Ideally, parking on the west side of Beaconsfield would be disallowed south of the lane (to Queen) and one side of the street would be designated as a common loading zone for the Drake and the Beaconsfield. A total of three parking spaces would be lost but the berth of the street would then hopefully curtail delivery trucks from choking pedestrians off the sidewalk and bottlenecking the vehicles turning onto Beaconsfield at the intersection or lane. At the end of the day, I wish drivers had more respect for pedestrians; their sense of entitlement to everything paved is offensive.

  13. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    If nothing else – I think it’s always more neighbourly and considerate to let people know your concerns before you try any other actions.

    Apart from talking to the Drake, you could also get in touch w. the Councillor’s office: councillor_giambrone@toronto.ca .

    Is the loading/unloading illegal? If so, you could try calling the police – 406-808-2222

    I don’t know what the process is to petition for something like the creation of a loading zone. You could try the councillor’s office. Or try access toronto: accesstoronto@toronto.ca or 416-338-0338- they’re the general first-contact at city call who can put you in touch w. the right people.

  14. Svenglezz Says:

    Hello,

    I have a noise problem with a restaurant across the lane “The Keg” at Y&E.

    I assume it’s coming from the equipment from the kitchen system at grade and 2nd floor exhaust outlet.

    It’s an ecology unit (to remove grease from the air on kitchen exhaust hoods). It seems some engineers are using this new equipment to avoid bringing the exhaust outlet to “high-level/high roof level”. This equipment must still maintain N.F.P.A. code and min. 10′-0″ (3 meters) from property line and/or openings for both intake and exahust outlets, and seems this unit next to me does not meet code (in so many ways) but still nothing is being done. The noise from this equipment runs’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

    I did call the City and other bodies and took almost 6 months to get a sound reading…and been over a month since the reading and still waiting :( for the results, I called yesterday asked for the results via email (and not to mention they did not do the test correctly was here no more then 5 min.). And still waiting for some action from my local Councillor almost a year now.

    Thus I’m thinking of hiring my own engineer with the correct equipment to do the test correctly (the $60 radio shack device does not meet the requirment of the code NPC 205).

    May need to move, can’t handle the 24/7 noise.
    Very pissed off resident,
    Sven

  15. Svenglezz Says:

    Not to mention the “intake” for outside air directly into the kitchen….is in a LOADING area with construction garbage bins’ below it and truck exhausts spewing the muffler exhaust directly into in “INTAKE”,…..meaning all that crap is going directly into the kitchen (most likely right in the kitchen hood/range right above the cooking stakes/food).

    But seems no one cares for this or any of the other “infractions”, just surprised that the Health issue is not a concern…not to mention the staff smoking directly below the intake, so much for the 90 meter smoking distance.

  16. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    The city can be ridiculously slow in responding to these things. Sometimes it helps to go though “Access Toronto” – if a city office is being unresponsive. Info on Access Toronto is at: http://www.toronto.ca/accesstoronto/index.htm if

    Have you talked to the management of the establishment? Sometimes that can be helpful…

  17. Svenglezz Says:

    Even the restaurant engineer called me…..told me “I talk to much”. Wish I was in his face when he said that :) I told him never call me again.

    Minto is the builder of the two towers and management I think, been speaking to them from the start with no result. They did offer me a job saying looking for LEED people like me.

    When I mentioned that it’s not just this kitchen system not to code but the hole dam building does not meet code (A.S.H.R.A.E. 90.1) Feel sorry for all the people who purchased condo’s there, If they only knew.

    both the base engineer and the rest. engineer said Minto told them to put the ecology unit in the loading area. So if that’s the case (what is not right, since it’s the engineers paying for the liability insurance) they should do the right thing and move the equipment to high level so this is not an issue of noise, not to mention the “grease” smell, some engineers i work with say they don’t work in removing the grease, but the noise sure works :)

    Can we post pictures on here? If so I can take a picture of this unit and post it, so you can see the locations and the crap going into the intake/kitchen. I know I’ll never eat there.

  18. hartley Says:

    is anyone else experiencing excessive noise from the social at queen and dovercourt? is there a way to get them to turn down the music after 11pm?

  19. Sanchez Says:

    I’m curious, do the bylaws also cover the noise made by a bar’s patrons? I can always hear loud yelling and screaming from the people in the bar’s back patio as late at 3:30am every day of the week.

  20. queenbeaconsfield Says:

    Sanchez – Oddly the municipal noise bylaw itself specifically does not cover noise made by patrons. However, as mentioned in the article: there is a specific clause in the Liquor Licence Act which states that noise from outdoor licences shouldn’t disturb neighbours. This clause *does* cover noise from patrons. You can contact the AGCO at Licensing@agco.on.ca

    It might also be worth trying some of the other steps in the article – talk to your neighbours, try your local councillor, etc…

  21. Dolly Says:

    anyone having problems with play/wicked at queen and brookfield? They recently renovated the inside and their patio. Last friday Sept 21 was a full on club night with many smokers on the patio located on the residential street- brookfield.

    The front door and the two side doors were left open. We went over there twice to ask them to turn it down, then called the cops who did show up around 1:50am (we didn’t call them until 1:30am). At 2am, the music was turned down but then everyone poured out onto the street causing more noise.

    I will be emailing the emails given above and keeping a noise log.
    Just wanted to know if it’s bothering anyone else

    • kc Says:

      Yes! I’m regularly woken up by noise from wicked/play. Unfortunately I can’t go over to complain as I have two little ones asleep… Well that’ only when the noise doesn’t wake up one or both of them! Is there anyone worthwhile to complain to? Are there others who are bothered by wicked besides us two?

      • Brookfield Says:

        There are many neighbors on Brookfield who are organizing their efforts and making councillor Layton’s office and municipal licensing aware and engaged. Contact councillor Layton’s office and they should be able to put you in touch

      • jessica Says:

        Help, yes! Since they reopened I haven’t been able to sleep on Friday or Saturday nights until 3 – 4 am. I initially I called the cops several times but am now just run down exhausted and feel like I need to move. I have a three year old daughter who won’t sleep in her own room anymore because the noise level and aggression and swearing constantly wake her up terrified. She is once again a permanent fixture in my bed. We moved into the new building at queen and ossington when the club was closed and I remember thinking how blessed we were to find this place and how quiet it was at night……then it reopened and I struggle with a constant sense of shame that I can’t bring my daughter up in a peaceful environment. OK. That’s my 3:13 am rant……

  22. karatespacetiger Says:

    Thanks for the useful information. Just wondering: Is anyone else annoyed by the super-loud outdoor concert noise coming from Echo Beach last summer and now this summer? I know it’s two kilometres away from Q&B (and therefore we shouldn’t be able to hear it!), but whenever there’s a metal band or an electronic music concert there I can hear it even with my windows closed. Annoying. They stop their concerts at 11 pm so I haven’t been able to make a legal noise complaint, but it just sucks that on those blessed weekday summer evenings when, except for the Indy or the Airshow, I used to just enjoy some relative peace and quiet, all I can hear is Rancid or Skratch Bastid or whatever… argh.

  23. T.Barrett Says:

    Our family has been enduring loud disturbing patio music at a restaurant outside our children’s bedrooms for two years now. We have long been abandoned by the Counsel of New Tecumseth that is filled with friends of the restaurant’s owner. We have been asking the Ontario Alcohol and Gaming Commission to enforce the Ontario Liquor Licence Act for over a year with no success. It seems the Ontario AGCO have chosen to stop enforcing the part of the Act that deals with patio noise. There is no justice in this province for families!
    View how bad it can get with no help from anyone:

    The Ontario Liquor Licence Act states:

    “Ontario Liquor Licence Act, R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 719

    46. The holder of a licence that applies to outdoor premises shall not
    permit noise that arises directly or indirectly from entertainment on the
    premises or from the sale and service of liquor to disturb persons who reside
    near the premises. R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 719, s. 46.”

  24. kc Says:

    If anyone is at queen and ossington, there is a liquor license application in the window of 1036 queen st west for a new lounge/bar that plans to open (right next door to where play & wicked was). You have until Nov. 23rd to object it. PLEASE DO. Application #268403. Licensing@agco.ca or 416 326 8700

    • andrew britnell Says:

      hey KC, I saw the owners of 1036 queen west few days ago and I question their mission, they were happy to explain to me that they are looking into food driven full service restaurant at that location.
      i’m not too sure if that considered as a bar.

  25. jessicaehaberman Says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Obviously, I’m not K.C., but this is something that concerns me. (I also live in the apartments across the street.)

    I’m glad that you spoke with the owners and that you seem to have some openness towards their intention….that is mildly reassuring.

    I do know from the liquor license board that they are applying as a restaurant/lounge….not unsimilar to the Drake or any of the other large, open late “restaurant/lounges” in the area.

    I have heard that this area is not zoned to have any “bars” or “clubs” and therefore any incoming business must first identify themselves as a food driven establishment in order to obtain a liquor license. It is the only way to get in under the radar. (Can anyone clarify or confirm this for me?)

    Personally, If they are going for a lunch/dinner crowd with both the kitchen and establishment closing at a relatively early hour – ie last seating at 10, I might be less concerned, but so-far…that’s not the impression I’m getting. It peaks the interest of my inner goth and long gone early adulthood and that’s not a good sign ;).

    It is such a huge space and I imagine that they, like so many others in the area, are going for a trend seeking night crowd, looking to party in Toronto’s now “hip” neighborhood. The cynicist in me also predicts that it will most likely be too over-priced for the general milieu to become a neighborhood place and I fear their presence will only be adding to the already occurring mayhem and late night drunkenness.

    I hope that I am wrong. I also hope that the city received enough feedback to call a meeting: so that we can have an opportunity to meet them and have some serious dialogue before a license is issued.

    It would be so much more helpful to have a family friendly establishment or a nice market! IMHO

    JH

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