London city hall: Council suspends enforcement of patio-music ban in ‘unprecedented’ move amid ongoing legal battle

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Let’s call this city council’s OMB two-step.

In a creative move, a pair of city councillors successfully pushed a crafty bylaw tweak that will immediately allow music and dancing on bar/restaurant patios – despite an ongoing objection to the Ontario Municipal Board.

“I think it’s an unprecedented move here,” Coun. Mo Salih said. “It’s really council in a sense saying, we’re not going to get in the way of jobs and fun.”

Here’s the blow-by-blow of a fascinating series of events:

  • Dancing and amplified music has been banned on most London bar/restaurant patios for a quarter-century.
  • Council recently voted to drop the ban, thus allowing amplified music on patios starting this summer. Some downtown residents were angered.
  • One core homeowner, AnnaMaria Valastro, filed an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, which adjudicates local land-use decisions. She argued the music creates a health risk. The appeal will keep the ban in place until long after this patio season ends.
  • Tuesday, Salih and Coun. Jesse Helmer took a crafty step – asking that city staff stop enforcing the no-music-on-patios bylaw. Council voted 10-2 to do so (Phil Squire and Stephen Turner were opposed; Harold Usher, Paul Hubert and Jared Zaifman were absent).
  • So, London can let the music play immediately.

The decision was made just before midnight after a marathon Tuesday council meeting.

Valastro has previously ripped city hall, the media and council over the proposed bylaw change that she’s now opposing.

“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.”

Calls to her Wednesday morning weren’t immediately returned.

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