Dear Toronto. Love, Sneaky Dee’s & Hard Luck Bar.

DISCLAIMER: This is NOT a petition, a complaint, or an issue of insensitivity that the internet is ever so prone to these days.

Toronto is the epicentre of the creative community in Canada. All of these factors may or may not have influenced your decision to live in this beautiful beast of a city, but we are here now and that’s what’s important.

Surprisingly, an overwhelming number of residents believe the city has become too loud. We think those people are actually in the minority, and if complainants can dial 311 about “noise”, those of us who enjoy the city’s bustling culture and nightlife can take a few minutes to respond.

Sneaky Dee’s started as a family business in 1987. We’ve been lucky enough to be adopted by our many diverse patrons as a local institution. Home and incubator for a countless number of musicians, artists, residents and tourists, we’re proud to be ingrained in our local community. Everyone from Arcade Fire to Fucked Up has graced the darkly lit upstairs stage, and has helped Dee’s make its mark as a cultural institution.

In our three decades of booking, promoting, and producing shows, we’ve experienced our fair share of run-ins with Toronto by-law enforcement officers responding to noise complaints. Between Dee’s and our sister venue, The Hard Luck, we’ve invested a considerable amount of money in soundproofing in an effort to minimize any stray notes and tones that our neighbors may consider a nuisance. We’d like to think that these investments have been more than would be reasonably expected of someone in our position. We know how important music is to our community so, for us, the expenses are worth it if it means we all get along. Compromise, right?

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case. In spite of our geography – anchored firmly in the heart of urban Toronto – we are involved in noise disputes with a regularity that would make you cringe. We are not alone in this issue. The City of Toronto is currently conducting a review of the city’s current noise by-laws, and more than a handful of Toronto’s storied, active venues have spoken up just as we are now. Meetings have been productive, and people are working towards positive, long-term solutions on this issue. We are hopeful that these discussions will lead to a change in how Toronto’s noise bylaws are set up, and administered. The existing laws and ways of enforcing them are causing serious issues when it comes to running music venues like ours in Toronto.

What can you do?

Send feedback via e-mail to Jessica Walter (jwalter2@toronto.ca) of Municipal Licensing and Standards at the City of Toronto. Tell her that live music should be managed differently, the value of these venues within our community, and how we can all work together to develop an appropriate course of action. We’ve even drafted an e-mail for you below.

We love our city, and we’re proud of the reputation we’ve built as presenters of local and international talent. We look forward to booking shows for years to come and continuing to contribute to the building of a positive creative culture in our community. Art is loud and sometimes messy but a core part of our culture. Let’s not step on our own toes, Toronto.

Thank you for your support!
– Owners of Sneaky Dee’s and Hard Luck Bar

Draft email:
Dear Jessica,

I am writing to express my support for live music in Toronto. As a music fan and concert-goer, I value the work local venue owners and promoters are putting in to keep our city on the cutting edge of industry trends. As a resident of Toronto, my issues with loud noise coming from loud music and community events is far outweighed by the sounds of construction, streetcars, and general street traffic.

I appreciate you considering this, as the ML&S reviews issues related to the noise by-law review process, with a view to smoothly integrating the perspectives of the music community with those of the whole of Toronto

Thank you,