A group of Montreal artists and and bar owners confronted the mayor of the city's Plateau-Mont Royal borough about noise infractions at a council meeting Tuesday.
More than two dozen people signed up to ask questions and voice their displeasure that the borough has increased fines for loud music.
Changes to a existing noise bylaw came into effect on Aug. 24, and under what's called Projet NOISE, police can now issue tickets to bars for up to $12,000 instead of the previous maximum fine of $1,000.
Musicians and bar owners insist the heavy fines could mean several bars will have to close, and are worried that emerging artists will no longer have a place to play.
Local DJ, Alexandre Paré, is also completing his masters in urban studies at l'Université de Montréal.
He said without small bars, international superstars from Montreal such as Arcade Fire would not have hit it big.
"They would not have seen the light of day if it wasn't for all these small venues," Paré said. "Closing these small venues would actually mean that we are going to kill the Montreal scene," Paré added.
Hilary Leftick, the executive director of local music festival Pop Montreal, said the borough mayor should have at least talked to bars owners before changing a bylaw that has such a big impact on them.
Leftick said bar owners feel "persecuted" and are worried about how police will interpret the new noise infractions.
"If you are going to have these laws that are so harsh and the fines are so heavy, at least give people something to measure themselves against - set a decibel level so that it is not something that is completely subjective," Leftick said.
Mayor stands firm
Plateau mayor Luc Ferrandez said his office has received some 3,000 noise complaints from residents, and he says it is his duty to take care of them first.
"I know that it is not always the same lady calling because we receive them in our office," said Ferrandez. "They have watery eyes that have not slept all night long and I am the mayor and I am going to do something for them," Ferrandez continued.
The mayor said the bylaw was altered to target 10 specific bars which had received fines but refused to turn down the music.
Ferrandez said he would meet with musicians and bar owners to talk about possible solutions, such as better sound-proofing, but he does not intend to strike down the changes to the noise regulation.