Last Wednesday morning, in hearing room 16-1 at the Ontario Municipal Board’s Bay Street headquarters, urban planner Lindsay Dale-Harris was giving her professional opinion on whether Parkdale restaurant/bar/music venue Parts & Labour’s proposed rooftop patio constituted “good planning.” But she couldn’t get far without interruption. Well-timed scoffs from neighbourhood residents punctuated the proceedings—one man even whistled for the Chair’s attention and received a polite but firm rebuke.
This was round two of the restaurant’s quest for a rooftop party perch. It started this March, when the proposal was rejected by a city committee. The restaurant’s owners came to last week’s OMB appeal prepared with a lawyer, an acoustic study of the bar’s sonic impacton the area and a proposal for a sound-barrier wall. They also brought in Dale-Harris, who gave evidence in support of the 180-person patio. But it still took three days of testimony and arguments from experts and locals to hear everyone out.
With $30 main courses and a capacity in the hundreds, Parts & Labour has been an obvious outlier in the area since opening last spring on Queen near Sorauren, and plenty of residents have stories of late-night parties and loud-mouthed patrons. Few bar patio applications can divide a community so throughly—the neighbourhood seems split as as to whether Parts & Labour is part of the area’s revival, or an interloper more fit for the club district. “We’re not the anti-fun brigade,” said Kirsten Saunders, an architect who lives less than a block away. “Things that bring people to Parkdale from other parts of the city are great, providing that they’re compatible…but [Parts & Labour} is a not a bar, it’s a giant entertainment venue.”
But Nathan (no last name given) an event planner and construction worker who lives in a house nearby, said after the hearing that “There are streetcars that shake my house every half hour all night. This is what living in a big city is, and this is why most people want to live here: so that we can walk to a patio or or a restaurant, and not get in a car and drive.” The OMB is expected to deliverits decision by the end of next week.