The Dry Docks

There was an epic length article a few years ago in Toronto Life that focused on The Docks and owner Jerry Sprackman, a man who never met a zoning ordinance he couldn’t brazenly ignore (un-archivably-linkable, of course — wither Toronto Life, says no to summer fiction and the internet too). It told the story of how, against odds and laws and city planning, he built an adult(ish) wonderland on our Industrial Rivera. He seemed like a straight Steve Rubell, taunting authories with his hedonistic creation and making a bundle. And now the spectacle that never was supposed to be has lost it’s liquor license and most likely will close, cuz there are no teetotalers in Sodom.

Certainly the Docks is a site of unspeakable acts against Toronto civilization — it’s the wet t-shirt of Clubland; the vomit machine on the edge of town; the place where girls who drive Pontiac Sunfire’s try ecstasy for the first time and dance to Nickleback with their arms in the air…

Bad taste is not illegal though, so most of us just avoided The Docks and the city carried on just fine, just as we avoid Peter and Richmond most of the time, only looking up when somebody gets shot or a 12-year-old girl gets stabbed on Adelaide at 2am. One part of town was paying a lot of attention though: there were celebrations on the Toronto Island today, where folks have been fighting with the docks for years. Corks popped, and white-haired-ladies were all smiles as they rotated on CP24 all day long.

Last year, when Islanders were cranky about Wakefest making noise in the harbour (perhaps itself an abomination of sport for some, but hey…), Eye Weekly ran a perfect editorial, at once supporting their right to live on the island (a city park) but clearly telling them to deal with the noise and stop being such pushy squares. In part, it read:

We’d like to register a noise complaint. We understand how sound carries across the water, so sometimes what seems a perfectly reasonable decibel level on one shore sounds like an overwhelming cacophony when it reaches the other. It’s possible the noisemakers are decent people, but really: we’ve got to live here, so could they please shut up?

We’re speaking, of course, of the residents of the Toronto islands, whose self-righteous, high-pitched whinging has been making it impossible for the rest of us to concentrate for more than a generation.

We don’t begrudge them their homes, nor the fact that they rent land from us at a price significantly lower than market value. But it’d be nice if they keep in mind that they live on land owned by all of us and set aside for community use, surrounded by land set aside for community use, across the water from land we very much want to develop into a vibrant part of Toronto. Sometimes the community will want to build a nightclub. Sometimes the community will want to give noisy kids a place to play. And if the island residents can’t handle the decibel level, they can always move to the suburbs. Things would sure get a lot quieter on the waterfront if they did.

And though I’m no fan of the Docks (and admittedly I don’t have to listen to it’s deep bass late into the night), I wonder if this is a slippery slope towards cleansing the city of some of the things we expect from big cities. As folks move into condos in Clubland, many of them demand (often in organized campaigns) more sedate and quiet nights. That 12-year-old should be in bed and not stabbed, but the area was zoned for clubs, and moving into that zone and complaining about noise is like moving next to the airport and complaining. Does it stop at a place like the Docks, or does it keep muffling things until somebody who complains about hearing Bach drift out of the Royal Conservatory of Music windows is taken seriously? I may not have liked the tune the Docks was playing, but what if it’s the first step in turning wonderful, vibrant Toronto into some kind of over-sanitized Singapore?


  1. I am never hesitant to tell the story of New York, NY, the place so nice they named it twice, and what happened there that made me move to Toronto.

    They padlocked the clubs.

    New York, a city people associate with wild nightlife and exciting club culture. The reality is, only 244 venues are licensed for dancing. What? A club needs a license to allow dancing inside? Sad but true. Now all New York has left is overpriced little bars. We need a place to dance!

    Well, I needed a place to dance, anyway, and I chose Toronto as my new home. I have partied at the Docks many times, and it is one of the only places in Toronto where a person under 19 can go for a big night out. Say what you will about all ages events, young people want to have fun too, and if they listen to dance music, they want to go out and dance.

    This is not just about noise, but about liberty. “If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution.”

  2. Like Singapore? Maybe. Or maybe more like cities w. more longstanding nightlife scenes.

    From what I understand, Toronto is pretty unusual in its lack of effective regulation over clubs. There are no regulations limiting how many bars can open in a given area (unlike, say New York). And, up until recently, virtually no precedent for enforecement of regulations containing the noise that clubs make. (Unlike, say, Berlin, where you have to do a noise impact plan to get a licence for a new club), or ways for residents to take any action against bars that are bad neighbours (unlike, say, Chicago, where there’s a process whereby neighbours can petition to have a bar’s licence revoked if the bar is overly troublesome).

    It’s true that if you live in a city, you have to put up with some noise. It’s equally true that if you operate a business in a city, you have to take steps to minimize the impact of your noise on others. If you run a loud club, it doesn’t seem at all crazy to say that it’s your responsibility to keep the noise from your club inside – to watch volume levels, to pay for sound insulation.

    From what I understand, for 10 years the docks played music outdoors late at night that was audible a kilometer away. They were warned many times by the city and the province that this was unacceptable (which seems pretty reasonably in any city, with the possible exception of special events) but continued to do it anyway, despite the fact that the municipal noise bylaws and provincial liquor licence forbid it. (And, to be clear – these aren’t oppressive puritanical rules: the regulations in Toronto are really lax compared to any of the cities mentioned above)

    The idea that it’s somehow a “big city” thing to let bars do whatever they want seems just weird and wrong. It’s not how things are in New York or Chicago or London or Paris or Berlin. It seems to me that areas like our club district have more in common with smallish college towns or Spring Break destinations than with urban centres with interesting nightlife.

    It doesn’t seem expecially Draconian to revoke the licence of a place that has broken the law for 10 years despite repeated warnings from multiple levels of government. That’s not Singapore – that’s just civilized.

  3. And Kevin –

    I agree – the NYC cabaret licening rules *are* draconian and foolish. (And, as I undersand, being replaced w. something more rational).

    People *should* have the right to dance. And Giuliani tried to take that away.

    But should you have the right to make as much noise as you want, any time of day or night, anywhere in a city? That seems a pretty extreme position.

  4. It’s not this particular case that frightens me, it’s the precedent it could set at the AGCO, akin to that described by Kevin in New York.

    – Much of vibrant Queen West is bordered by housing.
    – Festival venues across all of Ontario could be shut down by vocal cottagers and year-round residents.

    No matter what, we must learn from this incident. Where will nightclubs (and after hours clubs) fit into mixed use development?

    Those of us who care to keep the Docks running need to give the islanders some real noise to worry about and raise our voices now before the appeal period ends.

    The Docks Press Release on the matter can be read at their website

  5. There is something to be said about who came first, and I think the islanders do have a strong case to make about respecting your neighbours when you move into the neighbourhood. And I think the Docks showed a fair bit of contempt for the islanders’ concerns.

    But I think the way it was settled is unsettling. But I’m no lawyer…

  6. Generally I agree that the Islanders can be obnoxious, and that the Eye editorial was accurate and fair in as much as it was a reaction to the protest against the non-event that was Wakestock. On the other hand, something that annoys me far more than NIMBYs (except those who elect Karen Stintz) is blatant, flagrant, and persistent disregard, disrespect, and disdain for the bylaws of this City on the part of some businesses and corporations.

    I HATE that many companies come to believe, often reasonably so, that they do not have to respect laws that may impede their business interests because the City (and City Council) simply does not care. There are a number of areas in which City staff and Council have for too long granted companies tacit or explicit consent to violate our bylaws, and occasionally it takes an agency of another government, like the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission to step in and uphold Council’s laws for them. So few councillors seem to have any pride in this city and are more than happy to let private interests defecate on the institution of municipal government, often in exchange for campaign contributions.

    All of which is to say that any person who “never met a zoning ordinance he couldn’t brazenly ignore” and who consistently laughed in the face of “laws and city planning” deserves to have his business closed.

  7. “…like moving next to the airport and complaining.”

    That Ed Helms piece on The Daily Show a couple weeks ago was great.

  8. Good noise regulation is good planning, and makes for good cities. Never annoy your neighbours more than once.

  9. Maybe they should switch gears for the rest of the summer, just to keep the customers coming in and the employees working. If they can’t serve booze, bring in the kids. Do a whole family-friendly circus theme or something. See how the Islanders like hearing Sharon, Lois and Bram cranked to all hours of the afternoon. 🙂

  10. Okay, I hate noise when I’m trying to sleep. And I do enjoy a vibrant club scene. I understand that living downtown comes with the usual noise levels. On the island, (my jealousy for the idyllic location aside), they did not sign up for that.

    Why should it be considered unreasonable that the docks not play loud music on the patio? Blast it until your eardrums bleed INside.

    Now that I live in Windsor, even in the quiet neighborhood I live in, we get the full treatment of Detroit’s “Downtown Hoedown” when the wind is right (GAK!).

    Folks living in downtown Windsor will also have to face an emerging noise issue themselves because due to the smoking ban club owners are planning to open up their roofs. That will probably mean music.

    I’ll be watching this story with interest.

  11. “I wonder if this is a slippery slope towards cleansing the city of some of the things we expect from big cities.”

    Exactly. The increasing number of condos in downtown makes me wonder about places like the Entertainment District in 10 years.

    “moving into that zone and complaining about noise is like moving next to the airport and complaining.”

    I remember visiting a subdivision in Mississauga near Pearson where another was under construction and a huge sign was posted (maybe by GTAA?) along the lines of – if you’re thinking about buying here, it’s close to an airport so get used to the idea it’s going to be noisy.

    The problem I guess is while that might hold true for the islanders, who moved in across from an industrial zone and an airport, I have more sympathy for those in Jane-Finch who are in the Pearson noise contour – many are in social housing so they don’t have the option to move.

  12. living on toronto island and complaining of noise is like moving to LA and complaining about the smog – useless. if the toronto area residents are looking for quiet, quaint and rural, they should move up north. if you choose to live in one of canada’s largest cities then you must prepare to make certain sacrifices.

    the noise/waterfront issue is only going to get escalate as the waterfront develops. especially if it’s to succeed as a city destination – clubs, bars and lots of people traffic will make the area noisy, boisterous and dynamic. that’s the point.

  13. There’s a basic point here most people are missing in this debate: What you do inside your building is your business, but how you impact the world outside is not.

    Never mind the folks on the Island, whatever you may think of them. The eastern waterfront is supposed to become home for 60,000 people over the next two decades. Should we post signs telling them that the Docks got there first and they will just have to be thankful that the music will drown out the sound of the jets from the Island airport?

    As for the Entertainment District, there are two types of impact: one is the traffic congestion and the amount of active street life at 2 am. That’s life in the big city. But if every club started to blast music from the rooftops, that’s quite another matter.

    I was recently at an event that made a lot of noise in Allen’s Gardens in the middle of a residential neighbourhood. The “music” frankly was not very good, but the main point is that they had to shut down by 11 pm under the City’s noise bylaw.

    If the City cares about the quality of life we like to brag about, it needs to enforce bylaws when the bad apples, no matter who they are, won’t play by the rules. This isn’t NIMBYism. I might like listening to loud music at 2 am, and if I do, my neighbours have every right to complain and suggest, at a minimum, that I buy earphones.

  14. ohh…

    an all-too-familiar theme.

    vancouver has been hit by this. there are so many downtown condos now that nightclubs have a hard time drawing people because of noise complaints. in addition, no new nightclub licences have been granted.

    i feel that one sign of a great city is a liberal liquor policy.

    downtown living will entail noise. if people can’t tolerate it, why do they decide to live there?


  15. A place like Lee’s Palace has extemely loud rock shows that go quite late, and it’s surrounded by perhaps the most Nimby-est of all Toronto residents, and for the 3.5 years I’ve lived in the annex, i’ve not heard of any noise complaints, official or “on the street” about Lee’s (I could be wrong though).

    Perhaps the solution is as simple as shutting the doors?

    On the dock’s website their press release serves as kind of a warning to other clubs “this could happen to you” — but maybe the “good clubs”, the ones that behave as good neighbours, should distance themselves from the Docks — in order to show that the kids can dance and the sleepers can sleep in close proximity.

    This particular case is strange, because the Docks is such a bad civic entity, and the island residents are so cranky. It’s like the extremes collided.

  16. To djw – “See how the Islanders like hearing Sharon, Lois and Bram cranked to all hours of the afternoon.” – that’s classic and a damn good idea!

    I think the first thing we should do with the Islanders is kick them off of our land – whether the Docks reopens or not! They shouldn’t be there (and I think the majority of Torontonians agree – those who aren’t Islanders themselves) and as was pointed out in one of the previous comments, we plan on doing massive development along the waterfront – why are we leaving the Islands out of this development – because they are occupied by babies with loud mouthes and lots of spare time for letter writing campaigns.

    I’m not a fan of the Docks, only been a couple of times and haven’t been blown away (nice venue – it’s the crowd that kills me), but I think they are in a pretty good location for what they do. They aren’t located on Queen West, or in an overly populated area, where else should a place such as this exist – would the Islanders have the Docks set up shop in the suburbs?

    I have lived along Queen W. before, as well as many years around the Danforth, and I’m currently around Christie Pits. Needless to say I have encountered all kinds of noise and other inconveniences in these locales, but I dealt with them.

    I couldn’t go out into the street last month to tell all the Portugese & Italians to keep it down after their games in the World Cup – it wouldn’t have done any good. People living in little Italy had to listen to parties going on for most of the duration of the WC events, but they moved to that neighbourhood (Italians themselves or not) and they have to deal with the collective will over their own sometimes.

    Toronto needs a few more nice, big clubs like the Docks, that attract visitors from the Suburbs and the US, and keep them away from the clubs all the rest of us go to. And if they open up one in my neighbourhood, I guess I’ll either have to join the party or make a move – however I guess if my housing costs were subsidized by the City of Toronto where I was too, maybe I wouldn’t be so quick to move to the same deal everyone else in the city gets either…)

  17. Of course the real irony here is that the Docks owners don’t really want to be running a nightclub anyway, they have long term plans for the site and the adjacent TEDCO lands they have an irrevokable lease on (they’ve taken over the contreversial 20 year lease granted to Steve Stavro a few years ago), and it doesn’t include beach volleyball. As soon as they can either buy enough city politicians or push it through the OMB that site will be converted to a shopping mall so fast it will make your head spin, they’ve already tried once. If it’s in the middle of a nice, tourist friendly, high traffic revitalized waterfront with no other retail competition thats the best part.

    You all need to make up your minds, I though a vibrant downtown that people actually live in is supposed to be a good thing.

  18. I find the idea that the islanders are “cranks” weird and insulting. Shawn, it’s great that you live in the Annex where Lee’s Palace doesn’t make any noise. Hooray for Lee’s Palace. But that’s not the case everywhere. The bar I live opposite in Kensington, for example, plays music on the patio, sometimes amplified, sometimes well into 2am in the morning. Noise on the occasional night, especially weekend nights, is fine and to be expected and put up with. But noise 4-6 nights a week (as at The Docks, and the bar opposite us) is insane. You don’t just lose sleep during the night, but fight to stake away through the whole of the day. It’s physically and emotionally depressing. Considering what the Islanders have had to put up with, I’d say being merely “cranky” makes them saints.

    I don’t thinking giving the extreme, scare tactic example of Singapore is particularly helpful, either.

  19. Steve the dork > I don’t know where you get the idea that most Torontonians don’t want people living on the island. That is absurd.

    And I think the above post is bang-on — that property will be flipped for another condo or tourist trap soon enough.

  20. (I meant sleep not vampires: “Fight to stake away” = “Fight to stay awake”)

  21. Paul> The Islanders have a 30+ hear history of crankyness. It’s not insulting, its been well documented. It’s not just about noise from the terrible docks, there are inter-island “wars” between Algonquin and Wards Island residents. If I recall, Robert Fulford’s Accidental City outlines all this.

    Singapour is not a scare tactic — there are nightclubs there, but the city is ultra-sanitized. It’s a reasonable example on one end of the spectrum for the sake of this debate — as the docks is example on the other end (maybe extreme, depending how close you live to it). A scare tactic would be a totalitarian state like North Korea where fun appears to be wholly illegal.

    This debate is about where on that scale is reasonable. Lee’s is loud and people live nearby, and people don’t complain. Why can’t your Kensington bar behave in the same way, instead of being a mini-docks?

    Steve> As erica said, you’re wrong to suggest that a majority of Torontonians favour getting rid of Islanders. Most people (apart from those who don’t have an opinion about them, or know they exist) find it quaint and lovely — some people go to the islands specifically to walk around Wards or Algonquin (tourists in their own city, and those from farther afield), and it’s nice to have people living in a park like that. It makes the place seem alive and complicated — not just a grassy/wooded island. And there’s plenty of that if that’s what you want.

  22. Ear plugs.
    High-quality soft foam ear plugs.
    Once you get used to ’em, they’ll change your life.

  23. [rant mode=on]

    To put this in perspective, and to reiterate the point that was made by Paul Isaacs: I believe that one of the features of the US’s Abu Ghraib strategy is the continuous playing of loud music, resulting in the denial of sleep, which is well understood to have serious longterm psychological effects. Does this illustrate the problem with loud noise?

    The idea that people should just move away from loud venues is the same as saying that it’s fine for property values – and the resulting tax base that supports the city, transit, health programs etc. – can be arbitrarily eroded for the sake of a small group’s self interest. That’s not a good basis for urban development.

    And if the noise from The Dorks is OK, why not the noise from the Island Airport for people in High Park and the Trinity Bellwoods area? And extending this, why shut down the abbattoir at Strachan and King? Why concern ourselves with any environmental impacts? The principle of ‘they got there first’ appealed to by some posters is a way of denying cities’ fundamental quality: change and adaptability, the discovery of compatible new uses for existing resources.

    Finally, music amplification is a technology for creating mass audiences and reducing manpower costs. The Dorks probably has the same effect as major sports venues, which in a study a few years ago were shown to drain money from other entertainment options, remove wealth from the community, reduce service sector employment and make local entertainment options less viable. There is no ‘big city’ quality to neighbourhoods that can’t sustain their own vibrant entertainment venues. The cancerous development in the laughable ‘Entertainment District’ is one with the Dorks, the bar and bands version of blockbuster musical theatre, pandering to the same audience at a different stage of life…

    [rant mode=off]

    ..that feels better.

  24. Dan, I agree with you, except for your point about propety values. In this case, The Docks is probably increasing property values in the immediate area. It demonstrates that there is an alternative use for the priviously industrial lots. Further zoning changes, perhaps helped along by the number of people that head to the area, will increase values further. As for the islanders, they don’t own their land and re-sales are strictly controlled. This is a noise issue. As much as islanders get on my nerves (its a kind of jealousy), I do believe they have a right to reasonable noise levels. That doesn’t mean silence mind you.

  25. Okay, where on the scale is reasonable? I think if you choose to live downtown, noise on Fridays and Saturdays has to be sucked up and ignored. It’s just too bad.

    At the same time, one shouldn’t be afraid of making the value judgment that The Docks losing its license is definitely a good thing. It’s not untenable to say the rights of the cranky islanders are more important in this instance than the rights of the clubbers.

    (Mind you, I wouldn’t want to see my Kensington bar lose their license, even if their chronic busker yawlping of “Dirty Old Town” at 2am means I’ll never be able to listen to Shane Macgowan again.)

    For Toronto to reach Singapore levels of sanitisation is still a long ways away. I just moved back to Canada from London, England, and this place is the Wild West by comparison. (You can drink till 2am without being forced to dance to Oasis, which is a start. A big start.)

  26. Does anyone have any quantitative evidence to support the claim that a clear majority of Torontonians support housing on the island vs. having the island all be parkland?

    (or the reverse position?)

    The fact that there has been a debate for, what, 40 years on the subject seems to indicate that opinion is divided… And both sides seem to always claim that the other represents a narrow range of interests.

    I myself am still ambivalent about the issue. The idea of living on the island enthralls me… but I have a surprisingly sympathetic ear to the ‘squatter’ argument. Perhaps I’m simply jealous?

    Also do you count suburban opinions? Anecdotally 100% of my peers who are from the suburbs seem to feel the Islanders are squatters, whereas my downtown friends are more evenly divided.

    In any case I would be interested to see any links or references to actual data such as polls, votes, etc., either way.

  27. While I do beleive The Docks was flagratly ignoring noise laws, that scene with the old ladies popping champagne in celebration on CP24 the other night sent chills down my spine.

    It reminded me of my hometown, Oakville. A large and lovely town (well, some parts are lovely) that is dull beyond belief to live in. The old and uptight have an absolute stranglehold on this town, to the point where it’s even illegal to operate a motorcycle store.

    Local bylaws limit dancefloors in bars to a virtual “postage stamp” size in this town, and last year they finally managed to tear down the only halfway-decent place in this town to put-up condos. (After years of exaggerated complaints from the neighbourhood of fights and people loitering.) There were similar celebrations, after having killed the “scourge”. But this town has a long history of that. (At one point in the ’90s, they even outlawed video arcades.)

    As the condos keep growing in the city, expect the “entertainment district” to be similarly snuffed. Muchmusic’s not going to be able to get away with their occasional parties for much longer either…

    But, nature abhors a vaccuum, and some other community will end up reaping the tax dollars that Toronto is in the process of displacing.

  28. Sharkey’s wasn’t amazing, but it was alright.

    I enjoyed the leafy patio down by the creek. That’s something that CAN’T be replaced, because it takes years to get the appropriate foliage cover over a patio.

  29. Michael – I agree, to a degree, with your correction of my point of view about property values: the Dorks’ probably did increase the value of the lot they are on, which was disused. But that also reflects a drop in values from when Toronto was an industrial center. The Dorks is ensuring that the immediate area would *not* be valuable for most non-industrial use including parkland. So I think that part of my argument is right – the net effect of The Dorks is to lower property values for the next likely compatible use.

    The ad hominem arguments against the islanders misses the point: it seems strangely naive not realize that the ‘white haired ladies’ represent CP24’s decision to slant the issue as an age vs youth one, instead of as an irresponsible self interested business vs the community at large. CP24 is a business that panders to youth for its advertising revenue.

    Jacob – One reason that Oakville is so dull is precisely because Oakville’s entertainment district is located at John and Richmond. There’s a particular view that we should try to get people to come here and spend money: one product of that is John and Richmond, another is the failed Olympic bid, another is the new bid for a World’s Fair. I’m unconvinced that this is how you build a viable city. I’m from Montreal: they pretty much wrecked that place for fifteen years chasing that dream.

    Re> the tax dollars that Toronto is displacing if the condos at John and Richmond close the Entertainment district: do you have numbers on the relative value of the nightclubs’ business taxes vs. the value of residential taxes that would be gained? And, lots of clubs have been on the Queen strip for 60 years without being shut down by residents, is the problem the residents, or is the problem the clubs? The kinds of condo dwellers you’re talking about already live in that area by the thousands. In my opinion, the clubs that would be shut down are not the type that is compatible with a city, but that hardly means no clubs, no taxes paid by entertainment venues in residential areas…

  30. dan: Yes, Oakville’s “Entertainment District” is at John and Richmond, but it doesn’t exactly have to be the sole location. I don’t know about you, but it’s a pain in the ass trekking out to the city on the -hourly- train for an evening, and having to catch the absolute last bus home at 1:30am or risk paying $60 for a cab. (Not that I wouldn’t go to the trouble of going downtown. I do prefer the buzz and variety of the downtown, and if there were entertainment here it would be Top 40 and hip-hop.)

    But Mississauga, the identity-less sprawl, has some entertainment options AFAIK. They’re even closer to Toronto than we are. Yes, people from there still go downtown, but they have the option to stick close to home if they don’t feel like taking the time and money to make the trek.

    It’s a matter of attitude. This town wants any and all “uncivilised” (their definition of) behaviour out of here. I’ve also long said that if you’re between the ages of 13 and 29, you’re persona non grata.

  31. jacob – There’s a lowest-common-denominator, economies-of-scale bias to the entertainment business these days – one that Toronto decided to roll over for, rather than try to shape – that tends to eviscerate local venues in favour of monster halls and over-concentration. What is happening in Oakville by fiat is happening in other places via market pressure. But I think it has gone as far as it can go when the form of a nightclub like The Dorks – and the John & Richmond area – is so at odds with other development patterns. No-one ever said that about the Cameron House…

    The contrast to Mississauga is valid. I think that there is an answer in the demographics; Oakville is one of the wealthiest places in the country – not really the breeding ground for bohemian culture. Maybe you should move… ; )

  32. Maybe I should move?

    I’ve been trying to get out of this town for YEARS.

  33. I live within 5 minutes of Yonge and Dundas by streetcar and sleep in relative quiet 7 days a week. I imagine this is true of many, if not most people in the city. I don’t see why islanders should not be afforded the same peace. Have you ever been on the ege of a small lake on a still night? You can hear conversations 500 meters away. I could only imagine the agony of living within ear-shot of the Docks.

    I don’t see why people living in a city should be expected to lower their standards as cost of membership. Jerry Sprackman and his Walmart meets Porky’s entertainment-plex that seemed to flout every By-Law it faced was a blight. That the Docks did not make even the slightest gesture at finding ways to reduce the noise emanating from the establishment is offensive. Loud, abnoxious, inconsiderate neighbours are unacceptable, regardless of the population of the city in which they have chosen to reside.

  34. Earplug users: how do you block out the residual club noise, and still manage to hear your alarm clock in the morning?

  35. I’m glad the Docks lost their license, they were a poor enterprise that didn’t really care what anybody thought. They had ten years to resolve the issue, they could have turned off the music on the patio at 11:00pm (which is consistent with patios all over the city) and contained their music inside, but no, they weren’t going to give in to anything that infringed on their right to make a buck. Funny how the other big club on the water, the Guvernment, or whatever its called today, has not had any complaints from anyone, especially given that noise travels so freely over the lake.

    Keep in mind that the islanders have been there for much longer than 30 years. It was 30 years ago that Fred Gardiner’s Metro Parks Department decided, in a very draconian fashion, to wipe the island clean of any commercial and residential structures, and turn it into a giant lawn. Do any of you realise that the island once had a main street with hotels and shops? Gardiner’s actions amounted to slum clearing, are we defending this based on our jealousy that the islanders got a good deal after year of battling the government’s taking of their right to live in their own homes? How about we turn the Annex into giant park, wouldn’t that be for the greater good too?

    And on a final note, your individual rights end when they infringe on the rights of your neighbour. This is a very important principle when we’re building up our dense and vibrant city.

    BTW, I have no sympathy for anyone who buys a condo in Clubland, you knew what you were getting into, sorry.

  36. What a bunch of interesting comments you have been making. Did anyone visit the court proceeding on Friday? I was a little on the fence until Friday.
    It turns out that more than 50% of the time the islanders complained about the docks, they were either closed or it was proven to be a party boat. Another interesting find was that for 2 years kids on cherry beach have been having all night parties blaring music, that the docks gets blamed for. as well the docks spent $1Million on a system that monitors sound to ensure they kept it at appropriate levels of 52db or less. they even modeled their entire new reno around sound absorbtion theories. this isn’t really a question of who was there first. Its a question of are we a city or a suburb? Although no one wants to see people lose sleep, is it fair to continuously wrongly accuse? Is it fair that the gardiner makes more background noise then the docks from the distance of the island? the issue is very simple, even a little noise will travel across the lake, much like it does in muskoka at a cottage. The island should never have been offered up as residential zoning – this is what created issues in the first place. the laws of sound travel alone should have red-flagged the government that down the road as toronto grew, noise would hit this island and who ever was on it. It costs the islanders approx $1 per day to live there – an insane mortgage of about $30 per month. WOW. How nice would that be?

  37. I lived almost across the street from a night club in the 80s. You could hear LOUD music pouring out when the when doors opened, and could certainly here the patrons whooping it up on the street at times. It was occasionally a pain, but nothing that I couldn’t get used to. I don’t think this is the situation with the Docks.

    This problem from The Docks isn’t just the loud volume. From what I’ve been hearing from people on the Island windows, dishes, even the taps on bathroom sinks vibrate with it. So, ear plugs aren’t enough.

  38. I think this discussion is actually about extent and location. The Docks have too much noise for where it’s located.

    Even if everyone on the Islands were a pampered crybaby (an unprovable aspersion), most of them are pampered crybabies with intact hearing and nervous systems who are suffering from annoyance (minor) and sleep deprivation (major).

  39. One option the Docks and party boat operators could consider to mitigate complaints is an offer to upgrade Islander windows to triple glazing to reduce noise (Dublin Airport in Ireland did something similar some years back). Maybe Robert Deluce and Robert Milton’s airlines could chip in – and it would increase the energy efficiency of the island houses too for an additional win.

    I think what gets people is that all across the city people see new condos going up or the right of way on St Clair and so on and that causes disruption to their way of life as it is but they are told that it is the way it has to be – we need more housing and more transit. The Islanders, at least in the attitude towards the Docks, Wakestock, the Island Airport and other issues seem to be the only ones who have an expectation of an unchanging way of life and a councillor in McConnell intent on delivering it.

    I guess you just can’t buy a house in Oakville for what the Islanders pay for their 99 year leases. (36000-57000 for the lot and an average of 100-160k for the house – info from

  40. It’s quite simple in my opinion. If you don’t like city noise, leave the city. Canada is the second largest country in the world. There is plenty of space for everyone.

    We want to be a world class city? Get used to world class noise! Because most of what I am hearing here is small town sentiment.

    But that is the reason why many of my brightest and livliest friends have made the move to europe in the last few years. And I will be joining them soon.

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