Entertainment on Outdoor Commercial Patios Pilot Project

In June 2018, City Council passed Temporary Zoning By-laws 17-082 (PDF, 419 KB) , 17-083 (PDF, 2 MB), 17-084 (PDF, 20 KB) as a two year pilot project to allow entertainment, including live or recorded music, on outdoor commercial patios licensed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario in designated areas.

Why a pilot project? The City of Hamilton wants to ensure we meet the needs, as best we can, of all of our residents. This is a good example of the City ‘testing the waters’ to see how the new proposal will be received by customers, musicians, restaurant owners and residents in the nearby neighbourhoods.

Designated areas for the pilot project

  • Downtown Hamilton (includes James Street North, Augusta Street and Hess Village) Note: The Bayfront Area is not part of the pilot.
  • Downtown Dundas
  • Upper James Street (Stone Church to Rymal Road)
  • Some properties within the Rural area

Are Noise Exemption Permits required? 

As long as no one is disturbed by the noise, Noise Permits are not required.

Permits are available to allow:

  • Outside Entertainment permitted on Thursday’s, Fridays and Saturdays
  • Between the hours of 11 am to 11 pm
  • Sound level is  limited to 60 dBA as measured at the establishments property line (i.e. conversation in a restaurant, office, background music, air conditioning unit at 30 m)

When is a Noise Exemption Permit required?

If the city receives complaints regarding disturbing noise originating from entertainment on an Outdoor Commercial Patio they will work with the Establishment Owner to gain voluntary compliance by having the noise level lowered or the entertainment stopped.

For continued complaints where violations are determined Orders under the Noise Control By-law (PDF, 70 KB) may be issued for immediate compliance to discontinue the use and/or require an application for a Noise Exemption Permit.

Apply for a Noise Exemption Permit

Prior to submitting an application, it is strongly recommended that you consult with an acoustical consultant/engineer in order to determine the feasibility of your proposal.

You will need to complete the Noise Exemption Permit Application form (PDF, 37 KB) and submit in person to:
Municipal Law Enforcement
77 James Street North, Suite 250
Hamilton, ON

  • ​​In the description of your event, you will need to include information about:
    • Type of entertainment i.e. music (live or recorded), theatrical, media/television
    • Type of noise i.e. acoustic, amplified equipment, no audio, visual, headphones only)
    • Type of equipment: acoustic (instruments being used); amplified (type, make, model, volts/wattage)

You will need to submit these items with your application form

  • Authorization from owner if applicant is not the owner
  • Floor plan or sketch plan
    • If a survey plan of the subject property is not available, then a sketch plan may be submitted. The sketch plan must be a minimum of 8.5” x 11”, maximum of 11” x 17” and include:

      • True dimensions of the outdoor patio for which the application is being made.
      • Location of all existing buildings, structures or uses on the subject property.
      • Location and name of the street.
      • Setback measurements from the lot lines of the outdoor patio on the subject property to the building on neighbouring lots.
      • Scale drawing utilizing good drafting techniques and including any amplified equipment being used and the direction of speakers.
      • The distance (if applicable) to any residence, school, church, hospital, senior residence/facility within 100m radius of the subject outdoor patio.
      • A scale and north arrow should be shown on the sketch.
    • The Director reserves the right to reject sketches for insufficient or poorly presented information and/or  may require additional information or detail to the drawing. Examples of sketch maps (without required measurements)
  • Ontario Corporate Profile Report for Business
  • Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario liquor license for business including patio
  • Certificate of Compliance from a certified acoustical consultant or engineer
    • A report is required from a qualified noise consultant or engineer commenting on the details of your application and equipment, including the maximum volume setting of the amplified equipment considered in the application. This report also needs to certify that the noise level limit does not exceed the (Leq) level of 60 dBA measured at the property line of the subject property. The applicant is responsible for the costs of the certificate.

  • Pay the application fee of $500. Applications fees are non-refundable whether the application is approved or denied. Make cheque payable to the “City of Hamilton”.
  • Posting of Pacard - All applicants are required to post a placard in a visible location at the proposed location of the entertainment. The City will also post a public notice about an application for a Noise exemption permit for an outdoor commercial patio on this website. The public notice and placard offer residents an opportunity to comment on the application within 15 days of the posting of the notice. Comments will be carefully considered before a Noise Exemption Permit for an outdoor commercial patio is issued or refused.

The public notice and placard information about the proposed outdoor entertainment:

  • Placard sign is required to be posted near the front entrance on the subject lands so that it is visible to the public when viewed from the exterior of the property.
  • A cardboard sign may be used by the applicant provided it is protected from the elements.
  • Once the application is processed, a copy of the approved wording will be forwarded to the applicant/consultant to be placed on the sign.
  • The sign must be a minimum of 24“x 36”; white background with black lettering (minimum font size 48) which will indicate:
    • Days and times
    • Type of music and sound equipment to be used
    • Sound level limits - maximum (Leq) 60 dBA measured at property line
    • Where and how to file a public comment
    • Contact information for the applicant

How to object an Outdoor Commercial Patio Noise Exemption Permit?

Should you object to a NEP application, you must provide written notification to the MLE Director.

Your objection must include:

  • The name of and address of the proposed establishment
  • Your name and address
  • Your phone number
  • The basis for your objection
  • Whether you would be willing to speak to the MLE Director on points of clarification to your objection

Notification may be forwarded by regular mail, or email to:
Director of Municipal Law Enforcement
City of Hamilton
77 James Street North, Suite 250
Hamilton, Ontario L8R 2K3
Email: mle@hamilton.ca

In stating your objection, try to be as specific as possible. Explain why the addition of the proposed outdoor entertainment/music would be of concern to your neighbourhood. Relate your objection to the effect any potential noise may have on your household or any previous noise problems at the applicant’s premises. If the MLE Director receives a written objection to the issuance of a NEP application by the date indicated on the placard, and it is determined that the objection is not frivolous or vexatious, then the facts contained will be carefully deliberated in the issuance or denial of the application. 

Public notice

When someone applies for a Noise Exemption Permit (NEP), the City of Hamilton Municipal Law Enforcement (MLE) Section will post a public notice on www.hamilton.ca/outdoorcommercialpatio and the affected area Ward Councillors’ office, and provide the applicant with a placard to post in a location where members of the public can easily read it from the outside of the premises that will include:

  • date and times to be set out in the permit
  • form of music and sound equipment to be used
  • sound level limits - maximum (Leq) 60 dBA measured at property line (i.e. conversation in restaurant, office, background music, air conditioning unit at 30 metres)
  • where and how to file an objection
  • contact information

This public notice offers residents in the municipality an opportunity to respond to the application and to voice any concerns or objections to the application within the time period set as advertised and posted on the placard (minimum 15 days).

Your objection

Should you object to a NEP application, you must provide written notification to the MLE Director. Notification may be forwarded by regular mail, or email to:

Director of Municipal Law Enforcement
City of Hamilton
77 James Street North, Suite 250
Hamilton, Ontario   L8R 2K3
Telephone: 905-546-2782
Fax: 905-643-1198
Email: mle@hamilton.ca

Your objection must include:

  • The name of and address of the proposed establishment
  • Your name and address
  • Your phone number
  • The basis for your objection
  • Whether you would be willing to speak to the MLE Director on points of clarification to your objection

In stating your objection, try to be as specific as possible. Explain why the addition of the proposed outdoor entertainment/music would be of concern to your neighbourhood. Relate your objection to the effect any potential noise may have on your household or any previous noise problems at the applicant’s premises. If the MLE Director receives a written objection to the issuance of a NEP application by the date indicated on the placard, and it is determined that the objection is not frivolous or vexatious, then the facts contained will be carefully deliberated in the issuance or denial of the application. 

You may wish to review relevant laws including:

Letters of objection

The applicant will be notified of the objections and will be given copies of the letters of objection. This gives the applicant an opportunity to work with objectors to address their concerns. The City of Hamilton encourages residents and NEP applicants to work out a satisfactory solution for all concerned.

The application process

After the time period set as advertised and posted on the placard has expired, the MLE Director will review all the information and decide whether to issue or deny an application. Any decision will be made based on an objective decision, after due consideration of all the facts presented. The objective test requires a determination in the opinion of a reasonably objective person whether the application would contravene the provisions of the Noise Control By-law and may have regard to:

  • Any negative effects or benefits to the neighbouring property
  • Any previous contraventions to the Noise Control By-law
  • Anything the MLE Director considers relevant

Reporting problems with an establishment

Once a NEP has been issued, the permit holder must comply with the City of Hamilton Noise Control By-law as well as any additional conditions that have been placed on the permit by the MLE Director. Failure to do so may result in the immediate suspension or revocation of the NEP. If you are concerned with the noise created by the live/recorded music from an outdoor commercial patio, you should contact the City of Hamilton MLE Section.

If you have complaints about the operation of a liquor licensed establishment, such as minors being served, overcrowding, or intoxicated patrons disturbing the peace, please contact the AGCO Liquor Enforcement Section.

The Decision

Council has deemed that the delegated power to the MLE Director issuing a NEP is minor in nature, and in accordance with subsection 23.2 of the Municipal Act, 2001. The decision of the MLE Director to issue a NEP is final & binding (appeals for the denial of a NEP application are made pursuant to the City of Hamilton Noise Control By-law). If you believe there has been an error of law or decision made in bad faith, you may appeal to the Superior Court of Ontario for a judicial review, which must be filed in accordance with the rules of court. Filing an appeal with Superior Court of Ontario does not automatically stay a decision of MLE Director to issue a permit. If you decide to appeal, you may wish to seek legal assistance.

Director of Municipal Law Enforcement
City of Hamilton
77 James Street North, Suite 250
Hamilton, Ontario   L8R 2K3
Telephone: 905-546-2782
Fax: 905-643-1198
Email: mle@hamilton.ca

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
90 Sheppard Ave East, Suite 200
Toronto, Ontario M2N 0A4
Telephone: 416-326-8700
Toll free in Ontario: 1-800-522-2876
Fax:416-326-8711
Email: licensing@agco.ca