Besides helping residents have their say to government on development and zoning issues, the HVRA can also help move local conflicts towards resolution. The notes on this page outline two such methods and give a specific example. The first initiative designed a joint committee to resolve conflicts between residents and local businesses. The second formulated processes for residents and restaurant owners to reach agreement on operation of outdoor patios. To see what a good plan looks like, scroll down to the text for an actual 2016 agreement where restaurant owners agreed to a specific set of conditions for operating a patio.
HVRA and Harbord Street BIA Joint Conflict Resolution Protocol
Following unfortunate interactions between some businesses and some residents during the period 2000-2002, the Harbord Street Business Improvement Area (HBIA) and HVRA agreed informally to set up a committee structure involving both organizations. It was designed to act as a form of hearing to air arguments from both sides of emerging conflicts between residents and owners of businesses. Representatives of the HBIA and the HVRA met over several months and came up with a protocol that would be put in place on a voluntary basis; it would be used only where the appropriate City or Provincial authorities had not yet ruled, or where there was the possibility of increased conflict while waiting to be heard by these other authorities. The text of the protocol is available here as a PDF file.
The HVRA representives have commented on this collaborative work as valuable in itself:
Although as of 2015 the structure has not needed to be used, we think the exercise was beneficial to both the Harbord Street BIA and to HVRA; that we have a greater appreciation of the connection of each community to the other; that we may not agree on everything but that respectful disagreement is of the essence in these situations; and finally, that peace-making is a good enterprise to promote.
Rory “Gus” Sinclair, Past Chair HVRA
Margaret Beare, HVRA Representative for the Conflict Resolution Protocol
Another situation needing mediated discussion arises often in Harbord Village. Outdoor patio seating is very popular in local restaurants—but not always with nearby residents. When restaurant owners propose setting up outdoor patios, nearby residents get worried about noise, parking, and garbage. And yet being near “restaurant row” is one of the pleasures of living in this area, and the patios are clearly a key component of restaurant success.
To address this particular situation, the HBIA and HVRA have formulated principles to help owners and residents come to an agreement about city permits and liquor licenses for patio operations. Here is the protocol they constructed, approved at the HVRA Annual General Meeting on 21 October, 2008:
HVRA Protocol for Patio Applications in Harbord Village
Patios contribute to the ambience of Harbord Village. They can also be a source of concern to residents. The Harbord Village Residents’ Association (HVRA) wants to ensure representation of residents’ interests in patios, as well as good communication among applicants, residents, City staff, and the ward Councillor. HVRA thus proposes the process set out in the following paragraphs.
There are in essence three types of patio:
A patio on City property on a residential street (usually at the side of a corner business on a main road). For this, the business operator must have a patio permit from the City and, if alcohol is served, a licence for use of the patio from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). As well, such a patio must be supported by a majority of neighbouring residents who respond to a poll conducted by the City.
A patio on City property on a main street (usually on the sidewalk in front of the business). The requirements are as for #1, without the need for a poll.
A patio on private commercial property (usually at the rear of the property). The licence from AGCO is required, if applicable, but not a patio permit from the City.
For an application in respect of any of these types of patio, particularly the first and the third, HVRA, if asked, can facilitate a public process designed to ensure that a proposed patio will not imperil residents’ quality of life. Elements of such a process might include the following:
Make available relevant information, e.g., about zoning requirements and ACGO’s requirements.
Help ensure that an applicant understands the kinds of concerns neighbours can have about patios and the desirability of distributing plans to nearby residents.
Convene one or more meetings at which an applicant and nearby residents can air concerns so there is a baseline of understanding among all parties, and perhaps move towards an agreement as to how the proposed patio should be managed.
Topics of a negotiated settlement could include: hours of operation, number of patrons, alterations of plans to mitigate noise, conditional licensing, onsite staffing arrangements, trial periods, and others.
HVRA will act impartially during such a process.
When an applicant refuses to participate in the process, HVRA will usually oppose the application.
When there is an HVRA-facilitated negotiation without a settlement, HVRA may itself conduct a poll of neighbours, using the City’s rules, and be guided by the results of the poll.
When a settlement is reached and the patio operator does not abide by its terms, HVRA will usually act to secure enforcement of the settlement.
EXAMPLE: Conditions for a Restaurant Patio (2008, 2016)
The success of this way of working together with restaurant owners is evident in a City Council document showing the conditions agreed to by local residents and Loire Restaurant in 2008, and then developed further for an agreement with Her Father’s Cider Bar in 2016.
This is an example of what everybody agrees is a good plan:
The Toronto and East York Community Council Decision, TE16.19, 10 May 2016
Approved the request for the boulevard café permit located at 119 Harbord Street with the following conditions:
a. There shall be no line-ups outside the premises permitted on Major Street.
b. There shall be no amplified music or entertainment allowed on the patio.
c. The patio will be closed and cleared by 10:00 p.m. from Sunday to Thursday, and 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
d. Patrons who smoke or speak on cell phones shall be requested to do so on Harbord Street and not in front of the houses on Major Street.
e. Patrons shall only enter and exit the patio through the restaurant; there will be no entrance or exit from the patio itself,
f. During operation, the setup/layout of the patio shall be in substantial accordance with the plans submitted to Municipal Licensing and Standards in March 2016.
g. Municipal Licensing and Standards will report to Community Council in the first quarter of 2017 on complaints received over the previous season of patio operations at this location.
h. There shall be signage posted in a prominent location that will remind people to be considerate of the surrounding community.
i. Telephone number(s) will be provided for neighbours to register concerns or complaints, with both the establishment and with the City.