We’re Not Staying Silent: Our Fight Against the Planned Mega-Club in the Port Lands

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It’s the balance of mixed uses from recreation to residential and commercial purposes that makes our waterfront such a unique and vibrant part of Toronto. Keeping that delicate balance means we need to be vigilant and push back against wrong-headed developments – like the wrong-headed mega-club plans for the Port Lands.

While the Port Lands await revitalization and the transformation into a neighbourhood for residents and businesses, a local business could undermine those very plans. The culprit: the Rebel nightclub, or more precisely its owner Powerhouse Corporation. It wants to enlarge the club by doubling the indoor capacity and triple the outdoor capacity.

This is no small potatoes. The combined capacity would be 15,500 – just a few thousand short of the Air Canada Centre’s.  It would be the largest nightclub in the world; just let that sink in. The catch: all Powerhouse Corporation needs is a new liquor license to start its expansion, no change to the current official plan is required.

That’s why Waterfront for All and a number of allies are appealing the liquor license application for the planned mega-club with its never-before-seen proportions. We are adamant that entertainment venues like this must be just one of many compatible waterfront activities – and never overwhelm a core part of the waterfront with noise and traffic.

On June 29, the Ontario License Appeal Tribunal completed hearing eleven days of testimony from opponents of the Powerhouse Corp. application for a new, vastly expanded liquor license. The Toronto Island Noise Coalition (TINC), York Quay Neighbourhood Association and the City of Toronto presented a number the witnesses: 

  • The late Councillor Pam McConnell: as the Councillor for the Toronto Islands she spoke about her experience with this club when its license was revoked for noise violations in 2006 and when strict conditions for its reinstatement were set in 2008;
  • Hines/Tridel: a representative of the real estate developer spoke about the negative potential impacts on its prominent new Bayside residential development which will open this fall directly across the Bay from the club;
  • Waterfront for All representatives Ken Greenberg, Ulla Colgrass, Tim Ehlich and John Wilson; this included the presentation of the over 2,000 petition signatures against the mega-club that we've received so far;
  • Waterfront Toronto’s VP of Planning Chris Glaisek and others familiar with the massive city-building initiatives planned in the Port Lands;
  • An expert witness on noise called by the City and TINC spokesperson Lynn Robinson, speaking to technical, health and environmental concerns with noise;
  • Dozens of residents who have documented noise violations from the club and who testified to unacceptable amplified and crowd noise from Polson Pier for over a decade.

The documentation submitted to the panel included detailed nose logs and videos of outdoor music events t the club that far surpass acceptable noise levels. 

Waterfront for All Chair Ed Hore has served pro bono as counsel for the YQNA, while all parties have retained legal counsel. Waterfront for All has extended financial support to other coalition members to make a united front possible. In turn, this has only been possible through the generous support of our donors. Thank you!

The panel hearings will resume on September 25, 27 and 29 when Powerhouse Corp. will call their witnesses. Final arguments will then be submitted to the panel in writing in advance of a ruling. 

Rest assured that Waterfront for All will continue to fight this wrong-headed application. It’s our name and core belief that Toronto’s waterfront belongs to all residents of the city. That’s why we can’t have outsized developments overwhelm key parts of the waterfront, no matter if it’s jets or the planned mega-club.

PS: The photo shows a portion of the material that Waterfront for All prepared for the License Appeal Tribunal hearings.

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