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Montreal Music Venue La Tulipe Fears Being Forced to Close

After receiving noise complaints, police visits, and multiple fines, the Plateau concert hall says it’s now headed to court

row of empty chairs in concert hall La Tulipe/Facebook

Long-time Montreal music venue La Tulipe is under threat of closure following a number of noise complaints from a neighbour, an appeal for help posted to the establishment’s Facebook page yesterday says.

About two years ago, the Papineau Street mainstay got a new neighbour, someone who transformed an adjacent locale, previously a commercial space used as a warehouse, into a residential space — with the borough’s permission, according to the statement. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Plateau borough mayor Luc Rabouin says the borough had mistakenly authorized the zoning change but is doing everything in its power to rectify that.

As per the statement, what followed were regular noise complaints, police visits, and fines on which the venue says it has spent “a fortune.” The most recent ones were meted out during a pair of shows by local act Dumas, one last Thursday and one last Friday — $1,000 each, the statement says. The musician tweeted about the incident yesterday, saying the police tapped his sound engineer on the shoulder during the performance. (In a report by La Presse, Claude Larivée, the owner of La Tribu, the label that owns and manages La Tulipe, says that while he doesn’t know the exact number of times he’s heard from police regarding the noise, he estimates it is over two dozen.)

On December 21, the music venue is headed to court over a request for an injunction filed against it, which owners fear could lead to its closure. The statement refers to the whole situation as “Kafkaesque.”

Tuesday evening, after La Tulipe’s statement circulated widely on social media, Rabouin tweeted his assurance that the venue isn’t going anywhere and that the borough is in talks with both parties. “The Plateau’s cultural vitality is an asset to be preserved,” Rabouin added in the tweet. Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Rabouin added that the city would also be in court next week.

The building that houses La Tulipe has operated as a cultural venue of some sort since 1913. Named after Quebec actor Gilles Latulippe, who opened Le Théâtre des Variétés in the space in 1967, La Tulipe itself has been in operation for close to two decades. “We can’t transform this place into a pharmacy or condo,” the owners said in the statement.

Noise complaints have precipitated a number of other Plateau venue closures in the past, most notably Le Divan Orange in 2018 and Inspecteur Épingle in 2016, which begs the question: why do people keep moving next door to established concert halls when they can’t take the sound?

Update: December 15, 2021, 1:30 a.m.: This story was updated after Plateau borough mayor Luc Rabouin addressed the situation in a media scrum on Wednesday.