March 31, 2017
Night clubs and residential neighbourhoods do not often make for fast friends. Councillor Karygiannis is absolutely right in his concern for the safety and wellbeing of club-goers and the safe operation of businesses. However, the City must go beyond cracking down on restaurants operating dance floors and create a way forward for businesses outside of the Entertainment District to address safety, while operating as they have for years or, in some cases, decades.
In the Church-Wellesley Village, there has been a long established dance scene that preceded, and offered a safe alternative to, the designated club zone in the Entertainment District. These businesses have enriched their neighbourhood and most community concerns have been addressed through working with residents and owners to ensure that excess noise does not escape the property. In testament to the challenges of current regulations, even licensed operators in the authorized areas are facing major challenges as development and intensification displace them.
The way forward is not going to be a one-size fits all solution. Health and safety concerns must be addressed diligently. However, until dance venues like those in the Village can get some kind of status, a crackdown for its own sake will not address the primary concerns of many residents. Building safety inspections, a much stronger Noise Bylaw (for which a review is already underway), and a recognition of the importance of LGBTQ2S safe spaces will get us much further.