Taking a cue from developers, Parts and Labour goes to the OMB to plead their patio case

Taking a cue from developers, Parts and Labour goes to the OMB to plead their patio case

(Image: Jon Sufrin) 

Two weeks ago, Jesse Girard and Richard Lambert, the pair behind Parkdale’s Parts and Labour, went before the Ontario Municipal Board for the last stage of their protracted fight for a 180-person rooftop patio. We caught up Girard to find out how the hearing went and catch up on Toronto’s ongoing war on fun.

Since it opened last spring, the Queen West hotspot has fought off claims that it doesn’t jive with the rest of the block (an architect living nearby told The Grid that Parts and Labour is not a bar but “a giant entertainment venue.”) “People think we’re a nightclub; it frustrates me,” Girard told us, insisting Parts and Labour is first and foremost a restaurant. Back in March, their application for a zoning variance to allow a patio was nixed by a committee of adjustment. Since then, the city voted to repeal its new harmonized zoning bylaw, which contained restrictions on outdoor patios in the area. But the building’s roof is still too close to a neighbouring one and there’s still plenty of opposition from nearby residents afraid of hearing “Rebel Rebel” blasting at 2 a.m.

“I have owned enough places to know you have to get along with your neighbours,” says Girard, who also co-owns The Hoxton with Lambert. The pair hired acoustical engineers and architects, which mapped the bar’s sonic impact, and designed a sound-blocking wall—but their efforts seems to have fallen on deaf ears. The hearing stretched over two days, much of that taken up by unhappy residents. “It’s just unfortunate people see it with such venom, like it’s the end of the world or something,” Girard says.

The entire process has been costly—OMB appeals are usually the province of developers hoping to add a couple storeys to a condo. “Ninety-five percent of people in my position would not have the resources to go up against the OMB,” said Girard. Even with sufficient capital at his disposal, he knew the odds weren’t great from the beginning. “We were quite aware we would be shot down in front of the [city’s] committee of adjustment,” he says. Now that he’s had the opportunity to plead his case, Girard figures his odds are about 50-50. He and Lambert should receive their answer by the end of the week.

• Parkdale’s great debate [The Grid]