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Live, amplified entertainment on patios approved, effective Aug. 17 if no appeals

lakeshore-patioMusicians are one step closer to being able to play live, amplified music on patios in downtown Burlington.

On July 18 City Council unanimously approved a temporary bylaw to permit live, amplified entertainment for up to three years. The bylaw will be reviewed at that time to determine whether the program was a success with minimal negative feedback or impacts to area residents. A decision will be made at that time whether to make the bylaw permanent.

A 30 day appeal period is currently in effect. If no appeals are received, the by-law takes effect Aug. 17.

Currently, the City’s Noise By-law allows “loudspeakers or other electro-mechanical transducers intended for the production, reproduction, or amplification of sound until 11 p.m” on outdoor patios. The by-laws allow music from speakers on outdoor patios, but live performance of music is prohibited.

Under the temporary patio bylaw, live, amplified performance of music is permitted under the following conditions:

  • between  12 pm and 10 pm Mon-Sat, and until 6pm Sundays and holiday
  • only one one band or one group or one musical act can perform on the patio at any given time
  • outdoor entertainment / recreational uses remain subject to all other City by-laws in effect, including the City’s Nuisance and Noise By-law.

My Take:  Council unanimously supported the temporary bylaw, on a recorded vote at my request. Council also supported my amendment to allow amplified music (staff had originally proposed only acoustic performances). After hearing from musicians and downtown restaurants, I agreed to support amplified music for three reasons: the existing bylaw already allows amplified sound via speakers on patios, just not live performance; the noise bylaw is available to deal with complaints from noise; and musicians made the case it would be difficult to be heard without amplification, given traffic and other background ambient sound downtown. I believe that for the pilot to be truly effective we must test whether amplified sound is appropriate. If not, we can amend the bylaw after the review period.

Your Take: Do you support allowing musical performances on patios downtown, including amplified sound? Leave a comment below.


Written by Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made.

As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington.

The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful.

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  1. This is the first I’m hearing of this.
    How was this previously made public prior to being approved???

    Many people I speak to who live downtown are becoming concerned about the increasing noise levels, pollution and traffic congestion. Why are we trying to add to it?

    There are many restaurants with patios in all wards of Burlington. Why does this by-law apply only to Ward 2? And why do we need 3 years for a trial?

    Yes, the ordinary citizen can appeal for $300 to the OMB, but apparently only if they have questioned the By-law before Council prior to approval.

    Alternately. Marianne could re-think the impact to her constituents, some of whom will be able to hear amplified live music from Pepperwood’s. Table 34, Coup Wicked Chicken and Wendell Clark’s all coincidentally (not to mention what can be now heard on Sound of Music & Ribfest weekends) and retract/ revise this flawed By-law voluntarily.

    Residents are major stakeholders downtown, and our needs must be given greater weight in the City’s decision-making processes. Please start by rethinking this by-law!

    • Don, Thanks for the questions and feedback. The request to allow entertainment on patios came from the community; it was already happening on many patios, because people didn’t know it was not allowed. So we are putting some limits around an activity already underway; if you haven’t already been bothered by patio music (distinct from hearing the music from inside the bar) this bylaw likely won’t add to it. But that’s why the trial period; to test and see the impact before making music on patios a permanent use. This was communicated on my website, newsletter, as well as via ads in the Burlington Post. THe city may have done some additional notification, but these were the main methods.

  2. I think negative feedback from residents has been minimal to-date because the negative impact of this bylaw on residents seemed obvious. A ‘sound impact study’ does not take 3 years. Especially when the impact to residents will be immediate.

  3. Note that on Sunday, the Queen’s Head were so excited about the new by-law being approved, they couldn’t wait till August 17 to exercise their rights and have their acoustic band play for the neighbourhood !

  4. In my experience there is nothing worse for anyone not in attendance at a musical event or not in control of outdoor speakers than hearing amplified music, it penetrates your own space, the drum and bass sounds vibrate and intrude, it is the worst unrelenting disturbance and it is always louder than promised or allowed and can be heard far away from its source. Please do not permit this noise pollution to spoil the lives of the many people who will be impacted unfairly. It is an assault on anyone who wants to live quietly and not impose on their neighbours.

  5. It is disappointing that you have put the singular interest of the Restaurant Owners and Performers over that of the many Residents who will be impacted by the increase level of decibel generated by amplified rather than acoustic music!!

What's your take?

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