Police tell the Cobalt to turn down the volume
BY: SARAH BERMAN, MEGAPHONE MAGAZINE
When it comes to punk and metal shows, there are few Vancouver venues as loud and proud as the Cobalt. Attached to a notorious Single Room Occupancy hotel, the hardcore bar is praised by fans as the last haven for underground and extreme music in Vancouver.
But after nine years of punk rock patronage, the Cobalt may have to shut its doors for being a little too noisy. Last month, three separate noise complaints brought Vancouver police to the bar’s doorstep within less than a week.
“We’ve been getting these weird complaints—after nine years of nothing,” bar manager Wendythirteen explained. She said Vancouver’s after-hours noise bylaws might put the Cobalt out of business.
Diane Shepard is a property use inspector for the City of Vancouver. She said bars with extended hours are subject to specific and testable noise requirements. “If we have complaints, we’ll go out and take readings. If they’re not in compliance, we’ll go from there.”
“The hoops they put you through are impossible,” Wendythirteen lamented about the city’s late night licensing restrictions.
To stay open past midnight, bars like the Cobalt must be equipped with metal detectors, security cameras, ID scanners and adequate soundproofing. Owners of the nearby Astoria Hotel bar recently spent $120,000 on a soundproofing upgrade, to comply with city standards.
Sound upgrades at the Cobalt will cost upwards of $50,000. Wendythirteen says she simply can’t pay for renovations. “I can’t afford it, nor am I willing to do it,” she said. “The slumlords won’t fix their shit—why should I put money into fixing their building?”