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Jun 11, 2014 09:49 AM

Noise complaints on the Plateau - a solution is in sight!

I posted this in the World Cup thread and figured it could use it's own thread...

Good news! Resolution is in sight. Councillor Christine Gosselin has proposed modifications to the bylaws that recognizes bars and showrooms.

I went to a hearing on it on May 27th, it's mentioned in the article linked to below.

In a nutshell: Right now, the same noise bylaw that applies to residential buildings applies to bars. Of course, this is generally not enforced, it would be impossible to have any bars open in the city. The problems started when a few idiots started repeatedly making complaints, and the police had no options but to follow the letter of the law. They even fined people for making noise exiting a bar at 3am! Again, the current law is unworkeable if applied to bars.

Her modifications seem to strike a good balance: Bars and showrooms would get licenses for music if they soundproof their venues. Remarkably, there's nothing in the law about soundproofing right now, and most bars (like Bobards) that have live music don't have the proper show-venue licenses. Nonetheless, soundproofing wouldn't override the ability to make noise complaints. But at least the cops will hopefully take it into account (and be the wiser when the complaints come from just one or two neighbours), or venues can continue to upgrade soundproofing instead of getting shut down.

The second main effect of the proposal would be that new bars/venues won't be allowed to open adjacent to current dwellings (again, kinda blew my mind that Montreal doesn't have clear rules about this already like every other city, but then again, I guess that's why Mtl isn't as boring as every other city). So it will actually be harder to open new venues off the main arteries, and new small neighbourhood bars may be a thing of the past in the Plateau. But if the current crop of bars and informal concert venues can avoid heavy fines and/or being forced out of business by ending live shows, I'm all for it.

Anyway, you can read more here:

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  1. This is good news (even though it's doubtful many bars will go to the trouble and expense of soundproofing). I'm friends with people who have suffered on both sides of this problem (bar owners who get complaints from residents who moved in after the bar was opened, and residents who had to sell their properties when excessively noisy bars moved into their quiet neighborhoods). A difficult problem...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Fintastic

      Under the proposed rules, the soundproofing would be mandatory if the bar touched a dwelling on any side, including diagonally (eg. ground-floor bar next to ground floor retail, but the retail has an apartment above it).

      So the bars with live music or djs will actually have to spend quite a bit of money, but the fines some, like Bluedog and Bobards, have been getting have been in the thousands of $ anyway.

      Also, forgot to mention, just as bars can't open next to where dwellings already are, dwellings won't be able to open next to bars (incl. diagonally), unless they seek an exemption in which they offer to pay for the soundproofing themselves.

      Overall, the long-term effect, if it passes and stays the law, is less haphazard mix of bars and dwellings. But another effect of dwellings not moving in means, for eg, that a landlord with dollar signs in his eyes could not convert retail or cheap apts next to a bar into condos, then count on noise complaints to drive the bar out to make more condos.