London city hall: A new bylaw allowing amplified music on bar patios is in limbo amid an appeal filed by noise-wary downtown residents

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Is it an attack on fun?

Or a move to protect the health of downtown residents?

That sums up the battle that’s broken out over London’s newly loosened noise bylaw, which would permit amplified music at night on bar/restaurant patios citywide.

The old ban on patio music – in place since the early 1990s – was often cited as proof of London as a bland place. City council unanimously dropped it last month and implemented a permit system.

Boosters believe the change will make London more vibrant culturally.

But some downtown residents believe the noise it will allow may harm their quality of life – and, eventually, their health – so they’ve appealed the bylaw to a provincial tribunal, holding up its implementation.

“We have a right to appeal,” said downtown homeowner AnnaMaria Valastro, whose name is on the appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board.

“We feel this is bad planning. It doesn’t protect us. (It doesn’t) strike a balance between residents and entertainment.”

At least one city councilor strongly disagrees.

Coun. Mo Salih described his frustration with the appeal in a CTV interview, calling it “an attack . . . on culture and fun.”

What council approved in June allows the following:

*Bars would have to apply for temporary, renewable permits

*Music could be no louder than 70 decibels at the point of reception

*It can be played no later than midnight

*City officials say bars/restaurants that draw frequent complaints could be denied a renewal of their patio-music permit

Valastro spoke out previously against making the change. But she was particularly harsh in her criticism in a Wednesday interview – ripping the media, city council and city staff.

“If London (city hall) is seen as regressive, it’s because they’re out of step with what other, more mature cities are doing,” she said.

“London (city hall) is immature and out of step with other, big cities. They’re unsophisticated when it comes to planning and how to make an urban environment livable.”

Valastro has launched an online fundraising campaign at to help pay the legal costs of the appeal.

She shrugs off the suggestion that the appeal is anti-fun or anti-music.

“Even the most beautiful music can be a nuisance, if it’s unwanted,” she said.

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