Cut­ting live mu­sic

Nova Sco­tia liquor board pro­hibits am­pli­fied mu­sic at Tim­ber Lounge fol­low­ing com­plaints.



on live mu­sic has a lo­cal busi­ness owner won­der­ing “where is mu­sic al­lowed in Hal­i­fax?” Due to mul­ti­ple noise com­plaints, The Tim­ber Lounge (2712 Agri­cola Street) is no longer per­mit­ted to host am­pli­fied shows. (Acous­tic per­for­mances are still al­lowed.)

Co-owner Marc Chisholm says the ax­ethrow­ing bar pre­vi­ously made an agree­ment with the prov­ince’s Al­co­hol, Gam­ing, Fuel and To­bacco Di­vi­sion to stop all live mu­sic af­ter 11pm. Two weeks ago, Chisholm was pre­sented with a let­ter stat­ing that fur­ther re­stric­tions were placed on the lounge’s liquor li­cense.

Chisholm be­lieves most of the noise com­plaints are com­ing from one in­di­vid­ual who lives a few doors down. “Sec­tion 29 of the liquor act is ‘per­sonal en­joy­ment,’” he says, re­fer­ring to the “quiet en­joy­ment” con­di­tions. “So if a venue is af­fect­ing your per­sonal en­joy­ment of your life, which is some­what sub­jec­tive, then they have the right to com­plain.”

Chisholm points out that while live mu­sic isn’t the Tim­ber Lounge’s “bread and but­ter,” the re­stric­tions do im­pact the arts com­mu­nity. There’s “more de­mand for stages” than what’s avail­able in Hal­i­fax, he says. “Un­for­tu­nately, with the liquor board be­ing able to pull your li­cense re­ally any time that some­one com­plains, it makes it dif­fi­cult go­ing for­ward to in­vest a lot of money in sound­proof­ing.” But Chisholm em­pha­sizes that his beef isn’t with the liquor board it­self: “They were put in a tough sit­u­a­tion. They had to do some­thing.”

Marla MacIn­nis, spokesper­son for Ser­vices Nova Sco­tia (which in­cludes AGFT), says the di­vi­sion works “as a me­di­a­tor to mit­i­gate con­cerns. When we re­ceive a com­plaint, we con­tact the com­plainant and the li­censee,” she ex­plains via email. “Typ­i­cally, we con­duct a fo­cused in­spec­tion and in­ves­ti­gate for any non-com­pli­ance is­sues. If no con­cerns are iden­ti­fied, we close the mat­ter. If con­cerns are ob­served, we work with both par­ties to me­di­ate a res­o­lu­tion.”

Chisholm says he ex­pected to have a chance to meet with the com­plainant, but that didn’t hap­pen.

Ac­cord­ing to MacIn­nis, AGFT re­ceived “mul­ti­ple com­plaints from three in­di­vid­u­als” since Au­gust 2016. The Tim­ber Lounge was orig­i­nally granted a li­cense with­out re­stric­tions in April 2016. In June 2017, AGFT added nine re­stric­tions, in­clud­ing the con­di­tion that all live mu­sic must cease by 11pm, with the ex­cep­tion of New Year’s Eve. On Novem­ber 23 fur­ther re­stric­tions were added, pro­hibit­ing all live am­pli­fied en­ter­tain­ment and per­cus­sion in­stru­ments.

MacIn­nis notes that if the busi­ness dis­agrees with the re­stric­tion, it can ap­peal to the Util­ity and Re­view Board. Tim­ber’s plan is to wait for the new year to take an­other stab at host­ing live mu­sic. Chisholm aims to crowd­fund to cover the costs of fur­ther sound­proof­ing— some­thing he hopes will al­low the re­stric­tion to be lifted. “I hope the pub­lic weighs in a lit­tle bit and, you know, says if the Tim­ber Lounge puts in an ex­tra ef­fort for sound­proof­ing,” he says, “then they should be al­lowed to play mu­sic again.”

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