Montreal's Bar Le Ritz Taken to Court over Pre-COVID Noise Complaints
Appeals by the currently closed venue to delay the trial until after the pandemic were ignored by the city
Published Oct 30, 2020While it remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Montreal live music venue Bar Le Ritz PDB is being taken to court by the city of Montreal over outstanding fines from pre-COVID noise complaints.
Bar co-owner and Montreal concert promoter Meyer Billurcu shared news of the situation on Facebook today, writing, "I asked for a delay of the trial until we could actually open our business again as we have $0.00 revenue coming in right now. Not only did the City deny my request for a delay but they said the trial will proceed whether I show up or not. You'd think 7 months of being closed would be punishment enough but apparently not..."
Billurcu told Eater Montreal that the city has served the bar with a pair of fines relating to noise complaints, at $985 each. The municipal court hearing for the first fine is set for November 4, while the second will go before court on November 19.
"It wasn't even that we were asking to have the fine dropped. We were just saying, 'Let's do this when we're at least operational.' The city denied that and basically said, 'The trial is happening next week whether you show up or not,'" Billurcu told the site. "You know, when you don't show up, they just find you guilty."
Eater notes that both fines relate to complaints made in 2019, ahead of both the pandemic shutdown and Bar Le Ritz ownership renovating the space with further soundproofing measures.
The venue, which closed in March and stayed shut through the summer, was among a handful of Montreal establishments that crowdfunded money to offset lost wages of staff laid off due to the pandemic.
Billurcu explained to Eater that Bar Le Ritz did not receive noise complaints in its first 10 years of operation, "But in 2017, we started to get noise complaints. The neighbourhood is changing. It's not what it once was, but we've tried as best we can to be respectful of our neighbours and have done anything we can."
Earlier this year in Montreal, record store Phonopolis was fined for "amounts close to $3,000" upon reopening after a five-month COVID-related closure of their own, criticizing municipal and provincial governments for "draconican" policy and lack of dialogue.