Council to consider motion to protect Toronto’s music venues

November 3rd, 2016

Japandroids performing at Toronto's legendary Horseshoe Tavern, which celebrates its 69th birthday this year.

Japandroids performing at Toronto’s legendary Horseshoe Tavern, which celebrates its 69th birthday this year. (Photo credit: Bram Gonshor)

Toronto City Councillors Josh Colle and John Filion are proposing a motion to Council that would protect the city’s live music venues from the threat of development and make it easier for new live music venues to establish themselves in the city.

“The City of Toronto is North America’s third largest and Canada’s largest music market, having an estimated economic impact of at minimum $700 million per year,” says the motion. “However, the City of Toronto’s rapid gentrification and redevelopment could negatively impact its live music industry.” Development such as the city is currently experiencing drives up property values and the rents that music venues must pay. It also can lead to confrontations between new residential neighbourhoods and pre-established live music venues.

The motion contains six recommendations, which ask “City Council to direct the General Manager, Economic Development and Culture and the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning to:

  1. develop a co-ordinated strategy to preserve existing live music venues in the City of Toronto;
  2. designate senior staff members in the City Planning, Municipal Licensing and Standards and Toronto Building Divisions to act as liaisons with the City’s Film and Entertainment Industries staff to provide advice to individuals or organizations wishing to establish music venues;
  3. examine changes to regulatory frameworks to encourage the establishment of both traditional and temporary (pop-up) new live music venues in Toronto, such examination to include whether such venues could be included in employment land use categories;
  4. review strategies which have been successfully used in other jurisdictions, including financial incentives, to support live music venues;
  5. create an inventory of live music venues currently operating in the City of Toronto; and
  6. consult with the Toronto Music Advisory Council and other industry stakeholders on a to e above,and report to the Toronto Music Advisory Council and the Economic Development Committee as soon as possible in 2017.”

This is a strong proposal which recognizes that the challenges facing Toronto’s live music venues are two-sided. The issue is not just keeping existing venues from closing, but ensuring that the city is a place where entrepreneurs and businesspeople can open new venues and contribute to our vibrant music scene and music economy.

This motion will be considered by Toronto City Council on November 8, 2016.

Read the motion to council.