Skratch Bastid Turns Up the Volume on Toronto's Noise Bylaw Review

"We have so much to offer as an internationally recognized city, and we need fair rules in order to share and enjoy what we have"

Photo: City of Toronto (right)

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Oct 11, 2023

Skratch Bastid is raising awareness about an imminent municipal review of Toronto's noise bylaw, which could limit the volume of outdoor music events hosted in the city.

In a short video shared on social media, the renowned DJ and producer — whose Bastid's BBQ events are often held outdoors in Toronto and other major cities on the continent — explains that a potential revision to the bylaw, last updated in 2019, would involve "further reducing already restrictive noise limits" stipulated by Amplified Sound and the Noise Exemption permits required to host musical events outdoors.

The artist points to a website attributed to a "small group of music lovers" identified as the Sounds of the City Collective, supported by Bastid, local music historian The Flyer Vault and the scene-builders behind Toronto Rave Community.

As the site outlines, "the volume of amplified music heard outdoors is restricted to a maximum of 85 dBA [decibels], measured 20m from the source of the sound," per the aforementioned bylaw review of 2019. An included table of "Common Noise Levels" claims that the limit is equivalent to the noise generated by a busy restaurant, or in the ballpark of city traffic.

Sounds of the City argue that the 85 dBA limit "restricts outdoor events by limiting the overall volume of the concerts," and cite a 2015 noise bylaw recommendation from the Toronto Music Advisory Committee (TMAC) that identifies the limit as "unreasonably low and makes it very difficult for outdoor event organizers to create successful events and festivals."

The city of Toronto's review of the noise bylaw follows six public consultations held from September 12 to 21. That month, complaints concerning amplified sound from residents of King Street West — the city's entertainment district — made local news headlines.

Bastid calls upon "artists, fans, promoters, employees and members of the music community in the [Greater Toronto Area]" to offer additional written feedback to Toronto's Municipal Licensing and Standards division and Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik by a deadline of October 15, with further details available via the Sounds of the City website.

"We have so much to offer as an internationally recognized city, and we need fair rules in order to share and enjoy what we have," the artist concludes.

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