London Steps Backwards – Again
So a couple of years ago, Ryner Stoetzer and myself of the London Musicians Task Force as well as Venue owner Mike Manuel (LMH), Mario Circelli (FCLMA), Ryan Schroeyens (London Guitars, The PA Shop), Mike Rutherford (local musician), Colin Stewart (LMA), Barb Whitney and others, made time for two nights in a row of 3-4 hours each night, to plead our case regarding the “Noise Bylaw” – which I found appalling that live music would be classified as “noise”.
The focus was to change that categorization of live music and to also give the green light to having live amplified patio music in the city. We were there to go head-to-head against citizens who lived in the core who not only opposed it, but who had taken a stand to the point of filing with the OMB to stop it from proceeding, which some 6 months later the OMB ruled in our favor.
A few who were opposed to amplified patio music made logical and respectful arguments, but then there was the 3-4 who were over the top to the point of embarrassing themselves. After all was said and done and we all had our say, City Council voted unanimously to proceed and we all breathed a sigh of relief as those who opposed wanted to shut down not just amplified patio music, but music festivals like Rock The Park, Bluesfest, Rib Fest, Home County, etc.
In the months to come it was decided that the ceiling on outside music would be 70 decibels - A sound's loudness is measured in decibels (dB). Normal conversation is about 60 dB, a lawn mower is about 90 dB, and a loud rock concert is about 120 dB.
Now keep that number in mind – live music should NOT be louder than a lawn mower!!
While that limitation of 90db is ridiculous for live music – keep in mind that wind and/or low cloud cover can make that seem louder than it really is. When clouds are low, sound will bounce off them and be projected for miles farther than it would be if the sky was clear that night – it’s commonly referred to as “skip”. The cloud cover acts as a natural amplifier – mix that with a light breeze and sound can be taken anywhere due to “skip.
It’s difficult not to mention unreasonable, to somehow regulate nature and the effects it has with regards to a patio bar or a festival stage from 20 feet away let alone miles away.
Fast forward to this past week.
Harris Park for two weeks recently was used for “Park Jam” over two weeks and was put on by the Manuel family of London Music Hall. The Festival had numerous acts from Hip-Hop to EDM and was also paired up with Forest City London Music Awards who had a showcase stage for local artists to also perform.
There was a night, just as there was for Rock The Park, where the skies opened up with rain and the festival had to be set off it’s schedule to the point that the artists performing had to go past the 11pm cut off time in order to fulfill the evening's performance schedule. Now since this is not in the performer or promoters interest to have to delay a show, there is an obligation to people who have bought tickets to the event – and keeping in mind that safety is paramount for everyone’s sake – the promoter took the risk of running past the 11pm time curfew.
Yet that is not the issue that has now been ripped open like a scab – the issue now is individuals who are complaining that they “heard” the music of the festival some 4-7 miles away. Some of the complaints have even been as ludicrous as they could hear the music in their home while they took a shower.
Not to be outdone, Coun. Paul Van Meerbergen of Ward 10 (Westmount area where I live) declared “— were heard by his constituents in Ward 10, well away from Harris Park. “It wasn’t just one or two, it was many, many that were hearing this in Westmount. We all want live music downtown. We all want live music in Harris Park, that’s not the issue,” he said, describing the concert noise as an “attack.”
Now I live in Westmount, and all the nights that the Park Jam was on I was outside at night in my backyard having a beer and doing work off my phone as I usually do at night in the summer. I can tell you factually that on SOME nights I heard the music from Harris Park, but most nights I couldn’t. The nights I did it was a dull roar off in the distance so minute that if I went into my shed and shut the door, I wouldn’t have heard it. I also can tell you that if went in my house with my bedroom window open, the music was in no way an issue that would interfere with my sleeping. So those in Westmount that are complaining about the volume are in fact distorting the truth of the matter.
Entering the fray Ward 13 Coun. Arielle Kayabaga to take up the cause of the “sonic attack” of live music.