Londoner Seeks New Way To Silence Patios

File photo of Richmond Row-area resident Anna Maria Valastro near the patio of the Barking Frog. (Photo by Miranda Chant, Blackburn News)

A vocal opponent of amplified music on London bar and restaurant patios is gearing up for a legal fight for silence.

Anna Maria Valastro was behind an appeal filed with the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) last summer to halt a city bylaw that would allow establishments to play music no louder than 70 decibels until midnight. On Monday, she announced she was dropping her OMB appeal.

“We lost confidence in the procedure,” said Valastro, who is now eyeing private prosecution to stop the music she believes to be intrusive and detrimental to the health of nearby residents.

Valastro lives off of Richmond Row near the Barking Frog nightclub and has long complained about the noise pollution that flows from the bar into her 19th century home.

“I am not right next to the patios but I often hear the bass [of the music]. It is the bass that interferes with my ability to fall asleep at night because there is a deep pounding that comes into the house,” said Valastro. “In addition, there is a hyperness to the whole area that then spills out into our neighbourhood, so there are people screaming and shouting.”

City council voted unanimously last June to lift a ban and amend the noise bylaw to allow temporary permits to be issued for amplified music and dancing on bar and restaurant patios. The ban had been in place since 1993. The move came months after Valastro filed one of two OMB appeals that quashed a six-week trial period to allow amplified music and dancing on patios in the downtown and Old East Village the previous summer.

Believing noise to be a “toxic” substance, Valastro has said she might use the Canadian Environmental Protection Act to charge overly loud bar patios.

“We would have to hire an acoustic engineer to do a 24-hour monitor and, depending on what those results give us, we then can go to a Justice of the Peace and ask them to lay a charge. If a charge is laid then we know that our evidence is very strong,” said Valastro.

Private prosecutions allow anyone who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed an offence to lay an information in writing and under oath before a Justice of the Peace. The judge then holds a special hearing to determine whether a summons or warrant should be issued to compel the other party to appear in court.

Valastro raised $2,015 through a GoFundMe page last year that will now be put towards the costs associated with a private prosecution. She believes the overall price tag could be lower than the one she would have racked up with an OMB appeal.

While Valastro has said she has pulled her current appeal before the OMB, the city’s bylaw enforcement manager, Orest Katolyk, has yet to be formally notified of the withdrawal.

“I do not have official notification of that… until we get something official from the OMB that the file is closed all of my calls [about the appeals] are filed to the legal office,” said Katolyk.