Here is our Q/A with Herman and Rick:
The following question were posed:
1. Given the history and the controversy around the agreement between the City of Hamilton and Sarcoa, do you support the notion that some sort of mediated solution and possible exception to the noise by-law as presently written, may be an appropriate path to take to resolve this matter? Or are you of the view that the by-law is the by-law and there ought to be no exceptions?
2. To the extent that you believe there may be room for a mediated solution, is there a form that would take that you believe would be acceptable to community stakeholders and residents? In other words, what might a solution look like?
Herman Turkstra's reply:
It may be helpful to bear in mind that the Sarcoa problem was only resolved when Burlington residents were able to involve their Mayor in the issue. It simmered in Hamilton for three years with little or no help from our own City Hall.
Harbour West Neighbours, an activist group in the North End neighbourhood, conducted research last year on noise by-laws in municipalities bordering Lake Ontario. Overwhelmingly, outdoor music is prohibited around the Lake. In Hamilton, that prohibition extends to every restaurant/bar patio in the City.
Any deal with Sarcoa alone raises very serious issues of fairness. When Sarcoa moved to outdoor music that lasted until 2 a.m. in the morning and was measured at more than 200% of MOE standards, Sarcoa took the 18-25 year old crowd of customers away from other Hamilton restaurants and bars which were complying with the by-law. I was advised that, in some cases, the reduction in customers was as much as a 50% diversion to Sarcoa, particularly in the case of several Hess Village operations. Thus, any change in the by-law needs to be applied across the City for all restaurants and bars.
If the prohibition is reduced across the city, I expect that any reduction in the current city-wide prohibition will engage residents throughout the City who live next to or close to patios. For Hess Village, for example, there are hundreds of apartments that would be impacted by a by-law change. The residents of those apartments were involved in a major effort to control Hess Village patio music and that war lasted for several years and was very lively. There are literally dozens of other sensitive locations where the patio music by-law protects residents. Any change would create huge conflicts.
In other words, the By-Law functions very well, is similar to what other cities do, and should not be changed. It may be helpful to consider that the By-Law simply enforces what the Courts have traditionally said - everyone has to consider their neighbours. The By-Law makes it unnecessary for residents to undertake expensive court action to stop unreasonable noise.
The only mediation needed is the amount of the damages to be paid by the City to Sarcoa for Waterfront Trust and the City having approved plans for a patio that I am told included plans for the installation of resources for sound equipment that inherently contravened the by-law. That damage mediation needs no input from community stakeholders. If our Mayor, (in his stated quest to move Hess Village to the waterfront as a welcoming gesture for the hundreds of people who are being invited to come to live in the future on Pier 8 next to Sarcoa) tries to change the by-law to permit live or amplified music on patios throughout the City to help Sarcoa's revenue stream and settle the lawsuit, I am confident there will be a strong push back from community stakeholders across the City including the North End neighbourhood. Much better to let sleeping dogs lie, leave the by-law alone and settle the law suit with Sarcoa with a cheque. The actions of the Waterfront Trust in this whole story are at the root of the problem.
Clr. Craven's reply:
No exceptions. The law is the law.
Please note: If anyone has an email address for either owner of Saracoa's, can you please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post it as a comment. We will not publish the email address, but will receive it. Thanks! The Hamiltonian