Good news for Bar Le Ritz PDB: They won't have to pay the fines levied against them from a noise complaint back in 2019 at a time when they've been closed for months without any revenue.
If you don't know the story: On October 30, the popular Mile-Ex performance and concert venue made headlines after being asked to head to court for a $985 noise complaint fine. That fine was from back in 2019, a motion that was being proceeded with despite the ongoing forced closure for social gathering spots like Bar Le Ritz and others.
"The prosecutor said they were withdrawing their case against us because we showed we were acting in good faith to deal with the issue," Le Ritz co-owner Meyer Billurcu told Time Out Montreal in an interview following their court appearance last week. "Had we not done anything, they would have pursued a guilty charge."
"We had spent quite a bit of money on soundproofing last year... we wrote a letter to our neighbors that we dropped off door-to-door explaining the renovations we did and that if they still heard noise to please call us first instead of the police."
The issue, according to Billucru, stems from how Bar Le Ritz's neighbourhood was re-zoned approximately in 2017. From when the Ritz opened in 2008 to 2017, "our neighborhood was zoned a commercial zone. In all (that) time we had no problem with our neighbors," says Billucru. "I believe the police were called once for a noise complaint."
"Once the neighborhood was re-zoned a residential zone, tons of condos were built around us and that's when our problems began. Just prior to the pandemic, the soundproofing we did seemed to be working as we didn't receive many complaints before the lockdown began."
The trials and tribulations of that forced closure are ongoing for the venue. While Bar Le Ritz has been able to take advantage of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), "we're still losing money each day we remain closed," Billurcu says.
Despite the relief of the prosecution's descision, the tone-deaf nature of the law here can't be understated, it seems. "I did mention that we had been without revenue for 7 months which they took note of but I'm not sure if that alone would have won the case," Billucru told Time Out Montreal. "The law seems to operate the way it always does regardless if we are in a pandemic or not."