Friday, March 02, 2007

Docks to keep licence for now - Toronto Star

Docks to keep licence for now
Appeal court orders new noise hearing, booze OK at club if it follows strict rules
March 02, 2007
Leslie Ferenc
Staff Reporter

The Docks nightclub has won the latest battle with Toronto Island residents and their noise complaints, thanks to an appeal court that ruled the lakefront bar can hold onto its liquor licence, at least for now.

A three-member panel of judges at the Superior Court of Justice ruled Wednesday that The Docks can continue serving alcohol pending a new hearing before the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Last July, the commission yanked the bar's licence over a barrage of islanders' noise complaints. But days later, a judge gave it back – with strict conditions including a ban on large outdoor events – until the appeal court could rule.

The appeal court left in place those earlier conditions, which also include no amplified voices, music or disc jockeys outdoors before 11 a.m. and after 11 p.m. and all windows and doors closed while music plays inside.

The ruling was music to the ears of Alan Gold, lawyer for the Docks Entertainment Complex. He said the noise problem has been eased in recent months with the elimination of outdoor concerts and a sophisticated computer system that controls sound indoors.

No excessive noise means no reason for the club's liquor licence to be in jeopardy, he said.

But the court's decision was a sour note for Toronto Island residents, who have long complained that noise blasting from the nightspot, where in summer as many as 30,000 people party each week, crosses the water and shatters their tranquility.

"Nothing is a surprise," when it comes to The Docks, said islander Vivian Pitcher who, along with many of the other 750 residents there, have been plugging their ears for years.

"It's a disappointment," she said of the court ruling.

Though she hasn't yet spoken with her neighbours about the court's decision, Pitcher said residents will certainly "regroup," and wait for the new hearing. "It's always a waiting game."

Ab Campion, spokesperson for the commission, confirmed the regulatory body has 15 days to file a motion for leave to appeal the ruling. The decision on whether to do that will likely be made next week, he said.

No date has been set for The Docks to have its new liquor licence hearing before the commission.
I understand the plight of the Island residents. All they want is a good night sleep. However, if we want to build a vibrant, cosmopolitan city, we need to have entertainment areas in the downtown core. Without these areas, we run the risk of turning the downtown core into that of an American-style city. Buffalo and Cleveland are two examples, where even on a Saturday afternoon in the summer, the core is dead.

We want downtown Toronto to be a place where people live, work and play - if we remove one of those, we run the risk of turning the core into a ghost town at night. I don't usually quote Jane Jacobs, but she would have wanted eye on the street at all hours of the day. Entertainment helps to accomplish that.

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