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Concert curfew for London, Ont. gets bad reception from council committee

The motion for a curfew stems from complaints tied to the opening night of Park Jam Festival in Harris Park, which featured The Glorious Sons as its headliner. Andrew Graham / Global News

A pitch from city staff that aims to place a curfew on weekday concerts in London, Ont., has failed to garner an endorsement from local politicians.

City staff recommend limiting amplified concerts on weekdays to only operating between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. If approved, the new rule would go into place after Labour Day and would apply to concerts held at Harris Park or Victoria Park, both of which are City of London property.

On Tuesday, city councillors sitting on the community and protective services committee (CPSC) had their first crack at debating the matter.

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The recommendation comes in response to complaints lodged at the city and councillors during 2019’s Park Jam Festival in Harris Park.

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“Complaints were largely about how the Thursday, September 5, 2019 portion of the event was aligned with the first day of school, being September 6, 2019,” said a report prepared by the city’s director of recreation and sport Jon-Paul McGonigle.

City staff hope the concert curfew would “limit the disruption caused by special events on a school and/or workday,” the report added.

The recommendation would serve as an “interim solution” for the fall of 2021 before city staff conduct a more fulsome review on London’s special events policies for spring of 2022.

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Ward 1 Coun. Shawn Lewis was quick to denounce the recommendation with comments laden with references to the film Footloose, which centres on a teenager’s push to overturn a small town’s ban on dancing.

“This is London, not Bomont. Especially as we come out of the pandemic recovery, I think our job is to be more Ren McCormarck, not so much Rev. Moore. We want people to go downtown and cut footloose a little bit on the evenings when they’re able to do so,” Lewis said.

The complaints surrounding Park Jam’s 2019 festival were initially brought forward in council by Ward 13 Coun. Arielle Kayabaga, but she told her fellow CPSC members that the recommendation was not her intention.

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“I was looking to see what kinds of bylaw we could look at to protect… Harris Park,” Kayabaga said, nothing that Park Jam’s 2019 festival had used the park for a period of two weeks.

“This, to me, does not sound like it reflects any of the conversation that we had two years ago.”

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Ward 3 Coun. Mo Salih motioned the committee to ignore the recommendation, adding that London needs to help its entertainment and music sectors thrive.

“I recognize for some its difficult and the noise can be of a nuisance for some. For the vast majority of Londoners, it’s something they enjoy and something that they look forward to,” Salih added.

The committee voted unanimously in favour of Salih’s motion, meaning the concert curfew is expected to be ignored when full city council meets on Aug. 10.

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