Glebe to concerts: Come on down — carefully

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Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen

The Glebe is offering a welcome, if not a noisy one, to Def Leppard and the just-renamed CityFolk festival.

Both will play at the newly renovated Lansdowne Park, it was revealed Tuesday.

Glebe residents have complained in the past about noise from the Central Canada Exhibition, especially concerts at night. This year's Folk Festival at Hog's Back Park also brought noise complaints, some from the Glebe, which is about four kilometres away.

"The idea of concerts taking place at Lansdowne has always been part of the expectation," resident Bob Brocklebank.

"Even when Lansdowne consisted mostly of asphalt, there were concerts there, too," said Brocklebank, who has just finished a term in charge of Lansdowne issues at the Glebe Community Association.

"The problem is to work out a working relationship between the community and the concert organizers so that everybody can get along," he said. That would include concert hours and noise levels.

"We don't expect to be able to hear the hummingbird's wings flapping if you live downtown. You're accustomed to the traffic and noise and air-conditioning units," he said.

"I think we can be reasonably confident that the organizers of the concerts will try" to get along with residents, he said. But he added there are still questions about what happens if individual performers, not the organizers, set the sound level.

CityFolk will take place at the redeveloped Bank Street park from Sept. 17 to 20, 2015. The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, meanwhile, announced that 1980s hair band Def Leppard will "undoubtedly shake the foundations" when they play next May.

"More feet on the street!" enthused Andrew Peck, executive director of the Glebe Business Improvement Area. He said every business in the area will benefit, and music will join the growth of trees and the opening of stores as the neighbourhood blooms.

Peck called the folk festival's move to Lansdowne "genius."

And even Def Leppard fits in with the "cultural program" of the redevelopment, he said.

The area's councillor, David Chernushenko, said he had "frank conversations" with CityFolk organizers along the way to letting them use Lansdowne. "I have certainly let them know what my expectations are, but, to turn to the positive, there are a lot of lovers of music and arts and I'm one of them. I know we can coexist."

He said the city badly needs a new noise bylaw because measuring sound under the present one "is a little too much of an art, a guessing game."

A big issue is that "deep bass" sound travels farther than higher sounds, he said. Sometimes it's a deep boom-boom; sometimes people call city hall to say, "I can't actually hear the music but my house is shaking."

"With noise turned down to a reasonable level, you can close your door (or) window. You can put in earplugs." But with deep bass, "nothing stops it."

For promoters, "it comes down to: Are you part of the community? ... It's good community relations, "Chernushenko said. He wants the approach to be that residents will notice a concert, "but it shouldn't be painful."

He added: "There's going to have to be a lot of testing on site and top-notch expertise brought in to get an understanding of this new and unique site."

Typically concerts are told to wrap up by 11 p.m., he said.

with files from Matthew Pearson

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If you don’t find the information you need on these pages, please visit ottawa.ca/newlansdowne, or to contact the City directly by email at newlansdowne@ottawa.caor by calling 3-1-1 (press 1 for English, then 5 for the Lansdowne line). If necessary, you may also contact the project manager, Marco Manconi, at 613-580-2424 ext. 43229, or by email.