Montreal musician lobbies to 'Save the Plateau' after $1,250 fine

A $1,250 fine following a noise complaint has got Plateau-Mont-Royal musician Vincent Stephen-Ong campaigning to “save the Plateau.”

Vincent Stephen-Ong was playing at Les Bobards when police issued hefty fine for noise

Vincent Stephen-Ong (left) was playing last Tuesday at Les Bobards when police slapped the venue with a stiff fine following noise complaints. (Courtesy Vincent Stephen-Ong)

A $1,250 fine following a noise complaint has got Plateau-Mont-Royal musician Vincent Stephen-Ong campaigning to “save the Plateau.”

A saxophonist for improvisational group Kalmunity Vibe Collective, Stephen-Ong was playing at the Les Bobards live music venue last Tuesday when the police issued the fine, citing neighbours’ noise complaints.

Since then, Stephen-Ong has launched #SAVETHEPLATEAU, a social media campaign complaining about the complainers.

In a video he made and posted to YouTube, he lamented people moving “to the Plateau because it’s a hip and trendy area of town. Now they don’t want any of the things that made the Plateau hip and trendy in the first place.”

Stephen-Ong continued, saying people moving in near Les Bobards know that it’s a venue that features live music every night of the week.

“If you’re raising kids who have to get up very early, why are you living on St-Laurent and Marie-Anne, in the heart of the Plateau?” Stephen-Ong asked rhetorically on this morning’s Daybreak.

His band has played every Tuesday night since 2011, Stephen-Ong said, and Les Bobards has been hosting live music since 1989.

The venue’s manager and booker Rabah Mammouche said police came to the venue Tuesday night around 11:50 p.m. “because the music could be heard from outside the venue.”

Mammouche said the police told him they received a lot of noise complaints all of the time, but don’t always have time to enforce noise bylaws.

The bar manager said Plateau mayor Luc Ferrandez of Projet Montreal was responsible for the issue.

In July 2010, changes to the Plateau’s noise bylaws and the setting up of the Montreal police’s Projet Noise saw substantial increases in the amount police could fine people or businesses pursuant to noise complaints. Some fines can reach $12,000, up from the previous maximum fine of $1,000.

  • First infraction: $1,000 to $3,000
  • Second infraction: $3,000 to $6,000
  • Third infraction: $6,000 to $12,000

Mammouche said Les Bobards didn’t have a problem with previous borough mayor Helen Fotopulos.

Alex Norris, a Projet Montreal city councillor for the Plateau, told Daybreak there’s hardly a crackdown on live venues and bars in the area.

He said the Plateau is home to hundreds of places that play live or recorded music, and that only a handful of fines have been handed out for noise.

“If the ticket was given in error, that it was unjustified, it should be contested,” he told Daybreak host Mike Finnerty.

Last week, the Journal de Montréal reported that Ferrandez has promised to set up a team of six borough employees to respond nightly to neighbourhood noise complaints and, if necessary, issue fines.


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