Life in downtown Toronto comes with the expectation that there will be noise, but for residents of a King West condo building, a new nightclub-esque establishment has crossed a line.
In June, Hyde Social set up shop at the base of the CitySphere Condos at 801 King Street West, allegedly churning out thumping bass well into the night. Residents of that adjoining condo -- disgruntled and sleep-deprived -- filed complaints with the City of Toronto concerning the venue saying that it was an "eating establishment” but operating illegally as a nightclub.
Although the City has confirmed to STOREYS that the complaints have been received and are under active investigation, the party is yet to relent at Hyde Social.
Now, a city council hopeful is stepping up, promising to shut down Hyde Social and bring back some peace and quiet for King West residents.
“ANNOUNCEMENT: I am promising to the residents of King West that as my first action as councillor, I will shut down Hyde Social so you can finally get a good night's sleep,” Arber Puci, who is running for Councillor of Spadina-Fort York Ward 10, announced on Twitter last week.
Puci tells STOREYS that he became invested in the Hyde Social Saga after canvassing social media sites, like Reddit and Facebook, to find out about the issues facing residents in his Ward.
“When I was talking to the Liberty Village group and the King West group, there [were] a lot of residents that were really complaining,” he says. “The noise is horrendous. They have drunk people at two o'clock, three o'clock at night, yelling and screaming. They've had a sleepless summer… and nobody's doing anything about it. And it became personal to me because it was pretty sad.”
Puci says that Hyde Social has remained operational purely on a technicality and that the City should be doing more to investigate what, to him, is a clear violation of the Noise Bylaw.
“These guys have opened this place as a restaurant but they never used it as a restaurant,” he says. “It's open until 10:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m. They don't have a menu, they don't have anything, it's just a nightclub. And the City has done nothing to curb it.”
But the City contests that assertion, saying that they are doing what they legally can to address the ongoing complaints.
“The City determined that the establishment is in compliance with the Licensing Bylaw,” a spokesperson for the City tells STOREYS. “Two Noise Bylaw violations were measured at Hyde Social resulting in two charges and an Order to Comply being issued. With new complaints coming in, the City continues to investigate, inspect and undertake further measures to ensure that the establishment is in compliance with all regulations.”
With several complaints already in the City’s hands, it begs the question, what more can be done?
While Puci acknowledges that his reach as a Member of Council would only extend so far, he plans to rally behind this issue persistently, staying on top of the City to ensure Hyde Social remains an issue of priority.
“I understand I don't have the power to shut it down myself,” he says. “But I will try to advocate to make this happen -- to be the force inside of the city to make sure that this place cannot run as a nightclub. And if there are any regulations that need to be updated, then they need to be updated quick in order to get things done. How long can these people stay sleepless?”
In response, Puci has countered that “everything has its time and place and Hyde Social is definitely [in] the wrong place.”
The case of Hyde Social isn’t an isolated one. A neighbouring venue, Pizza Wine Disco, has also garnered noise complaints and disdain from area residents over the summer.
“This is a bigger issue with the City. They’ve got to create specific zoning on where you can have music, because people need entertainment, people need to go out, and that's normal,” says Puci. “The City has not been doing a great job of actually providing nightclub licenses as well. So this is one of the issues that has been created -- [Hyde Social] had no means of applying, so they found a spot and they opened.”
The City agrees that certain things need to change in order for laws to better reflect that “music and entertainment activities are often co-located in restaurants and bars across Toronto.” As such, they are reviewing licensing and zoning regulations for restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues.
“A staff report presented at Executive Committee in December 2021 provided a framework to update licensing and zoning regulations for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues and outlined a plan for public and stakeholder consultations,” says a City spokesperson. “Public consultations with key stakeholders, including owners and operators of businesses affected by these regulations, and residents will be held in the coming months and the City will bring forward a final report in 2023 with zoning and licensing recommendations and proposed bylaw amendments for Committee and Council consideration.”
In the meantime, Puci intends to remain dedicated to the interests of the residents of 801 King Street West.
“Something needs to be done at the end of the day. People live there [and] if they can’t move, what are they going to do? They're not going to sleep at night. It's a health issue,” he says. “Elected or not elected, I will try to help them because it's the right thing to do.”