We’re here, we’re proud and we’re noisy!
And noisy is what Pride means to many Torontonians.
Every year, Pride draws noise complaints from reproachful residents and retailers in the Church-Yonge-Wellesley area. But it’s the horn honking and rowdy behaviour, not noise from the beer gardens and entertainment stages, that most people complain about.
“People associate that with the event. But the event itself is fairly well contained and organized,” says Chris Andrew, the City Of Toronto Noise Section co-ordinator.
Her office didn’t get many calls about the parade weekend itself last year, says Chris Phibbs, assistant to Downtown City Councillor Kyle Rae. “The biggest complaint we received last year was about a float parked outside City Park co-op building with drums on it.”
Perhaps residents who don’t like noise leave town for the well-publicized Sun, Jun 27 Pride weekend. Phibbs fielded 12 complaints – and cops received 56 – about Gay Caribana last August. It was shut down, even though the music was cranked in the early evening, and not late at night.
Phibbs says the cell phone number for the one noise control officer on duty during the festivities is distributed to residents in the Church and Wellesley area. The officer checks out any complaints using a decibel-level metre, she says.
“Above 85 decibels is quite unreasonable and quite objectionable,” says Andrews, comparing that level to the noise a truck travelling at 60 mph would make. But “our main instrument is our ears and minds,” he adds, saying that the metre is used more as a guide, rather than to provide an exact measure.” We consider several factors, like time of day and location too,” he says.
The city also distributes flyers encouraging residents to report noise complaints.
Some local businesses object to the flyers. “There’s people sending in complaints that aren’t true, and it’s a hassle,” says Cafe Babylon’s Amir Ebrahimnia. Some come from ex-employees, competitors, or jokers, he claims. “There’s a lot of political stuff going on, especially with the non-smoking by-law coming in.”
Every year the Pride committee issues hundreds of pamphlets to local apartment buildings and retailers notifying them about Pride and asking them to come to the annual community meeting to discuss their noisy neighbours.
This year’s meeting was held in March and no one voiced any complaints.
Still, Pride’s being prudent this year. In hopes of keeping the rumba to a rumble, it’s moved the Pride Stage to Wood St, in front of Maple Leaf Gardens. “We hope the building will block some of the noise,” Pride’s Scott Ferguson says of the upcoming celebration.
Five stages will be set up along Church, Wood, and Yonge Streets to accommodate the hundreds of thousands people expected to attend. More than 70 live musicians, comedians, and performance artists are scheduled to rouse, rile, and rock their way through the Pride weekend extravaganza.
The stages close down at 11pm.