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City says it received just eight 311 complaints about Afrofest

Last Updated Mar 18, 2016 at 2:24 pm EST

People gathering at Afrofest in Toronto.

Despite allegations that it broke noise and curfew bylaws, the city says it received just eight complaints through 311 about Afrofest.

But Bruce Hawkins, Senior Communications Coordinator at the City of Toronto, said more complaints may have been fielded by the local councillor about the event, and he said “those eight complaints alone may not be the sole reason for any changes to the permit for the festival.”

The event drew an estimated 60,000 people daily.

Beaches-East York Councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said her office received multiple noise complaints.

“The last couple of years we’ve had problems,” McMahon said. “We’ve had problems with noise and we’ve had problems with the ending hour closing on time.”

But there is no concrete evidence of Afrofest being too loud. Hawkins confirmed the 2015 festival received a noise exemption from the city, so it did not monitor the volume emanating from the festival’s Woodbine Park site.

“As the event received a noise exemption, staff were not asked to (nor did they) monitor the event,” Hawkins said.

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And Music Africa president Peter Toh says the music coming from Afrofest is no different from any other festival held at Woodbine Park.

“The sound company we employ does most of the events at Woodbine Park, including Canada Day and Beaches Jazz festival concerts, and use the same sound equipment, crew and sound levels,” Toh said.

“The volume at Afrofest is no different than at those events, but in our case they are being called violations.”

Music festivals are typically allowed to operate until 11 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 p.m. on Sundays. Under the city’s noise exemption, the 2015 festival was permitted to run until 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

But McMahon said Afrofest has gone beyond those guidelines the past two years.

“We’ve had many talks with them recently, and given numbers of chances the last two years,” she said.

After years at Queen’s Park, Afrofest has taken place at Woodbine Park in The Beach over the last four years. This year’s festival is the 28th edition of the annual event.