Montreal's Plateau venue, La Tulipe, will have to lower sound, judge rules

The venue that houses La Tulipe on Papineau Avenue has been operating for over a century.  (La Tulipe/Facebook - image credit)
The venue that houses La Tulipe on Papineau Avenue has been operating for over a century. (La Tulipe/Facebook - image credit)

La Tulipe, a popular and storied music venue on Papineau Avenue in Montreal's Plateau-Mont-Royal borough, will have to comply with sound regulations, a Quebec Superior Court judge has ruled.

The venue's neighbour, real estate investor Pierre-Yves Beaudoin, had made several police complaints about noise, culminating in a request for a court injunction at the end of 2021.

Beaudoin bought the building adjacent to La Tulipe in 2016, following a mistake that cleared it for residential development, despite having been zoned for commercial or industrial use — as most properties neighbouring music venues are in the Plateau.

The venue's owners described the situation as Kafkaesque in 2021, noting they were having to pay the consequences for a bureaucrat's mistake.

At the time, they said La Tulipe would have to close if it were forced to make costly soundproofing renovations, complicated by the fact the venue is considered a heritage building and requires special permits to do so.

The building that Beaudoin bought, where he and 16 tenants live, used to belong to La Tulipe and is not insulated against sound.

The written decision by Justice Azimuddin Hussain, dated May 15, says the music coming from La Tulipe "makes the walls and floors vibrate" in Beaudoin's building at least twice a week. Between August 2017 and April 2019, Beaudoin complained to La Tulipe staff about 20 times, according to the decision.

The venue hired a firm to evaluate what it could do to reduce the sound emanating from its concert hall. The firm found the sound levels in Beaudoin's room were slightly higher than the maximum established by municipal bylaws between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Hussain said the venue would have to lower its sound until it could obtain the permits necessary to go ahead with soundproofing work.

"There are no vested rights to nuisance," the judge wrote. He also ordered La Tulipe to pay Beaudoin $1,250 in damages.

The La Tulipe concert hall opened in 2004 inside a theatre that had been built in 1913 in the heart of the Plateau neighbourhood.

Situation reflects 'absurdity' of sound rules

Plateau-Mont-Royal Borough mayor Luc Rabouin said in a statement his office is in contact with La Tulipe's managers and that meetings are planned this week to determine the next steps.

"One thing is for certain: La Tulipe is here to stay," Rabouin said in the written statement. "The cultural vitality of the city and Plateau is a richness we need to preserve."

Shuyee Lee/CBC
Shuyee Lee/CBC

Jon Weisz, the executive director of Les Scènes de Musique Alternatives du Québecknown as Les SMAQ, says there's no guarantee soundproofing will shield La Tulipe from future complaints.

"The regulations essentially put the burden on the spaces themselves to be … almost totally hermetic, sound-wise, when we know that it's really impossible for a concert venue to entirely limit the bleed of any [decibels] into adjoining space," Weisz said in an interview Tuesday.

"It reflects the absurdity of the city of Montreal — and the borough's — regulations around noise."

The group managing La Tulipe said it would not comment at this time. The lawyer for the building owner did not respond to a request for comment.