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Toronto granting more construction noise exemptions, with 177 approved in 2018

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The buzz of a chainsaw, the beeping of a truck in reverse, the thud of a jackhammer. All sounds that have become part of the backdrop of a growing city.

But between certain hours, the residents of Toronto are supposed to get a bylaw-mandated break, unless the city grants an exemption.

The city’s noise bylaw review is looking at construction as well as noise from power equipment (such as leaf-blowers), vehicles, bars and restaurants, and general noise, such as from neighbours. But construction noise is the biggest source of noise complaints to the city, with 3,845 noise complaints in 2018.
The city’s noise bylaw review is looking at construction as well as noise from power equipment (such as leaf-blowers), vehicles, bars and restaurants, and general noise, such as from neighbours. But construction noise is the biggest source of noise complaints to the city, with 3,845 noise complaints in 2018.  (Richard Lautens / Toronto Star File)

And they grant many, many exemptions.

The city is receiving — and approving — more construction noise exemptions, one of the most contested parts of the noise bylaw up for review in the spring.

In 2015, there were 132 construction noise exemption applications received and 102 granted. By 2018, that number had grown to 248 exemption applications received and 177 granted, according to numbers the city provided to the Star.

The exemptions were a hot topic at a bylaw review public consultation this week, which saw about 50 people squeezed into a meeting room at the Centre for Social Innovation Regent Park Lounge to make a little noise of their own.

At the Tuesday meeting, city staff, joined by facilitators from the private firm hired by the city to run the consultations, told the crowd that construction companies send exemption requests to city councillors, who have 14 days to deny them. If they don’t respond, the application is automatically approved.

That’s something condo manager Helen Da-Ponte thinks “should be removed.”

She’s fed up with noise from construction around her building near Queen St. and University Ave. and told a facilitator in a small group breakout session that residents “complain and complain” to the city and “nobody responds.”

“It’s never being followed up. The enforcement is not there.”

Resident Nick Yak, who lives in a different part of the city, suggested flipping it so applications are denied if the councillor doesn’t respond.

“I think that makes more sense,” he said in the same small group session, adding he’s submitted many noise complaints to little effect.

The noise bylaw is clear. Construction noise can only be made between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and not at all on Sundays and statutory holidays. But companies can apply for exemptions to do work outside those hours.

There’s also an automatic exemption for continuous pouring of concrete, large crane work, necessary municipal work and emergency work that cannot be performed during regular business hours.

Read more:

Is this the noisiest neighbourhood in Toronto?

How much noise is too noisy? Toronto wants to hear from you

Editorial: Turn down the volume!

Yak finds that “ridiculous,” and said the blanket exemption should be removed.

Paul De Berardis, director of building science and innovation at the Residential Construction Council of Ontario, said in an interview after the meeting the concrete exemption is “vital to keeping production schedule,” as companies might start pouring in the morning and just not be done by 7 p.m.

“Construction ultimately makes noise, there’s no way to undergo silent construction,” he said.

Getting rid of the concrete exemption and forcing companies to apply for permits would just add “another layer of bureaucracy” in an already complicated process, especially at a time when the city so direly needs more housing supply, he added.

He said other construction noise exemptions are about “logistics and safety” when companies need to do work overnight.

But De Berardis agreed leaving it up to councillors is maybe not the best approach and “could be adversarial” if they don’t want a specific project. A process where Municipal Licensing and Standards decided would be preferable for everyone, he added.

The noise bylaw review began in 2015, with the goal of making it easier to understand and striking a balance between the needs of residents and the growing city.

Two public consultations were held that year, and more in 2016. Tuesday’s meeting was one of five consultations held over the last two weeks.

It was clear residents are weary, with many expressing bewilderment, irritation and even anger over the issue.

Carlo Drudi told the room he’s “living through” a project near his downtown residence right now, and is inundated with “constant loud voices,” “blaring radios,” and “trucks coming at four in the morning.”

He suggested the onus be put on the noise generator by requiring “noise bonds” on projects, which could be lost if workers made too much noise after hours.

Another resident suggested inviting politicians or members of the construction industry to spend a night in the house of someone living near a noisy project; another said the city should set the example and make sure its own workers respect the bylaw.

The suggestions drew oohs, ahs, laughs and cheers from the crowd.

City staff will incorporate the outcomes of this round of consultations into a staff report it will submit along with proposed bylaw changes to the city’s Economic and Community Development Committee in April.

The other consultations looked at noise from power equipment (such as leaf-blowers), vehicles, bars and restaurants, and general noise such as a neighbour playing an instrument.

But construction noise is the biggest source of noise complaints to the city, and they’re also rising. There were 3,845 noise complaints in 2018, compared to 3,468 in 2015, according to numbers presented by city staff Tuesday.

Staff told the crowd that noise mitigation plans for the construction industry are also on the table. This is something that’s already being done in New York City, where contractors are required to make and post them at construction sites to let neighbours know how they will reduce noise.

There were also concerns raised by members of the Toronto Noise Coalition, a residents’ group that has been trying to get a stricter noise bylaw for years, about enforcement, and staffing of bylaw inspectors.

Some laughed while others shook their heads when staff flashed a slide that said the city employs 285 bylaw officers to enforce all bylaws, including noise.

The standard is that bylaw officers respond within five days for construction noise, but between two and 48 hours for animal noise, depending on the risk to animal welfare.

“Ha, more concerned about animals than people,” scoffed Mary Helen Spence of the Toronto Noise Coalition.

“What’s the point of having a bylaw if you don’t enforce it?” she asked the crowd.

May Warren is a breaking news reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11

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Anglais

Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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Anglais

MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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