Appeals Halt Patio Dancing And Amplified Music

File photo by Alec Ross,

Thumping music and dancing on bar and restaurant patios in downtown London and Old East Village isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

Councillor Jesse Helmer announced on Tuesday that the city’s six-week trial of allowing amplified music and dancing on patios has come to an end before it even had a chance to begin.

“Two appeals have been made to the Ontario Municipal Board about the temporary zoning bylaw we had passed awhile back to allow amplified music and dancing on patios until the end of September,” says Helmer. “Because of those appeals, that bylaw is never going to come into effect. I don’t even think those appeals will be heard before the end of September.”

As long as the appeals remain before the Ontario Municipal Board, the city cannot move forward with the trial period that would have come to an end September 30.

“I’m not trying to blame the people who have lodged the appeals. It’s perfectly within their right to appeal a zoning change,” says Helmer. “It’s good that we have that ability for folks when they don’t agree with what council is doing.”

Council approved the temporary zoning bylaw amendment on July 26. The test period would have allowed staff to gather information for possible permanent changes that could be implemented as early as next summer. The push to create more vibrant areas within the city comes as London prepares to host Canadian Country Music Week September 8 to 11.

“I’m frustrated that we are not going to be able to have the experiment because I think we need to make the change on a longer term basis,’ says Helmer. “But I think some of my colleagues would like to see what the results of the experiment are before doing that and now we aren’t going to be able to do that because of these appeals.”

Helmer believes the city should have selected a stronger path to implement the temporary changes.

“It shows why putting in restrictions about music and dancing really shouldn’t be in a zoning bylaw in the first place. If we were to make a change to the noise bylaw which regulates noise all throughout the city, that’s not appealable to the Ontario Municipal Board,” says Helmer. “It’s pointing at one of the weaknesses at putting these things in zoning bylaws in the first place.”

The Ontario Municipal Board has not yet set a date to hear the appeals.