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All about that bass: Downtown nightclub must pay neighbour $25,000 in noise complaint, court rules
Windsor Star
Sarah Sacheli
17 February 2017

A downtown Windsor nightclub has been ordered to pay a neighbour $25,000 plus court costs for the thumping bass that emanates from its walls on weekend nights.

Lev3l Vodka Emporium — commonly referred to as Level 3 — was sued in small claims court by lawyer Richard Gordner. Gordner and other sleep-deprived residents at Royal Windsor Terrace testified the sound from the nightclub at the corner of Ouellette Avenue and Park Street shakes their 26-storey condominium building, knocking pictures off the walls, and reverberates through their bodies.

seven intermittent trial days

After seven intermittent trial days that began in February 2016 and ended last month, deputy judge Simon R.R. Davies ruled in favour of Gordner, awarding him the maximum allowed in small claims court.

Davies said he would have awarded Gordner more if he could and, if he had the jurisdiction, would grant an injunction forcing Lev3l to “stop the continued emission of the unwanted noise.”

Level 3 at bottom right         Google Maps

Davies ruled the noise is a nuisance that interferes with Gordner’s enjoyment of his property.

“The harm is annoying, disturbing, intrusive, pervasive, irritating and loud,” Davies said.

Lev3l hasn’t paid him, nor has the club turned down the bass

Reached this week, Gordner said he is pleased with the judge’s decision. But Lev3l hasn’t paid him, nor has the club turned down the bass. “I couldn’t sleep last weekend,” Gordner said, explaining the thumping noise from the club is still just as bad as it was before the ruling.

“I’m thinking about starting another action,” Gordner said. Other residents in his building may do the same.

Court heard the city’s bylaw enforcement department was ineffective in dealing with residents’ complaints over the past four years. The club is open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights only. Bylaw enforcement officers work Mondays to Fridays and don’t respond to calls after 6 p.m, the judge noted.

bylaw officers don’t respond to calls after 6 pm

The noise complaints fell to the Windsor police. Sometimes, officers would go to the bar and order the music be turned down, only to return the same night after the volume would again creep higher.

A police sergeant was tasked with compiling complaints about Lev3l. “In his long experience, this direct police involvement with noise complaints at a single location was unique,” Davies said, recapping the officer’s testimony.

Gordner has lived in Royal Windsor Terrace since 1997. He testified he is used to the noise that comes with living downtown, including rowdy bar patrons shouting in the streets after closing time. But the noise from Lev3l is different. “Boom, boom, boom… like a bass drum beating in my bedroom… like an elephant stomping in my room.”

Gordner and other residents testified they would have to go to bed as early as 8 p.m. on weekends to try to get a bit of sleep before the bass would start pounding at 11 p.m. Some would go to a hotel. Paula van Wyk, a kinesiology professor at the University of Windsor, testified she had to rearrange her work schedule because, after having her sleep disrupted all weekend, she was too tired on Mondays to teach.

Court heard the club tried to address neighbours’ complaints by installing insulation in the rafters to dampen the noise. It also repositioned the subwoofers, pointing them away from the condominiums.

But the nuisance continued.

Lev3l, represented at trial by lawyer Patrick Ducharme, is owned by a numbered company. The managing partner is Matthew Komsa, who also operates The City Grill located below the nightclub, The Bull & Barrel, The Pub Club and The Soup Market in the Windsor Star News Café.

“We are discouraged and disheartened by the small claims court decision in favour of the complainant,” Komsa said in a written statement. “We feel strongly that we have adhered to all City of Windsor bylaws. We are a valued employer in the City of Windsor. We will continue to insure that we provide employment and entertainment for those who work and live in the downtown area.”

Asked pointedly, Komsa would not comment on whether he plans to appeal the decision or if he fears more lawsuits from neighbours.