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Toronto chef Marc Thuet in his industrial kitchen in Toronto, on Nov. 2, 2018.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

Late one night last February, Susanne Carnelos heard rumbling coming from the laneway next to her home. When she looked down from her second-floor apartment in Toronto’s Leslieville neighbourhood, she saw a moving van.

She went downstairs and introduced herself to Toronto chef Marc Thuet, who was setting up his new industrial bakery in the commercial building next door. Explaining that she lived in the building overlooking the lane, Ms. Carnelos asked if he could keep the noise down. Mr. Thuet apologized, and the van left. An hour later it returned and equipment was moved in throughout the rest of the night.

“That was day one,” Ms. Carnelos said. “We deal with a lot of noise Monday to Friday during business hours, but now that they’ve moved in, it’s all weekend and overnight.”

Mr. Thuet, one of Toronto’s top chefs, and his wife and business partner, Biana Zorich, starred in the Canadian reality-TV series Conviction Kitchen.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

The resultant dispute between the Petite Thuet bakery and residents in the east end neighbourhood highlights the tensions that can develop when homes and industry sit side-by-side. A growing number of such conflicts are cropping up in Toronto as residential development intensifies and creeps closer to land zoned for commercial use.

The problem is complicated by the fact that there are different rules governing the various zoning categories, which include residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use. In Ms. Carnelos’s case, her building, now zoned residential-commercial to serve as a live/work space, stands metres from the one next door. Both five-storey buildings once belonged to a gum factory, but while a developer converted Ms. Carnelos’s building into roughly 80 lofts in 1998, its sister building is zoned to allow for light industrial use. Today, it plays host to dozens of tenants ranging from a security hardware supplier to architecture firms and production studios.

Mr. Thuet's industrial kitchen is located in Leslieville, Toronto. There are different rules governing the various zoning categories, which include residential, commercial, industrial and mixed use.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

Mr. Thuet acknowledges the concerns about his operations. "Living next to the laneway, it echoes like crazy.”

Mr. Thuet, one of Toronto’s top chefs, and his wife and business partner, Biana Zorich, are well-known in the city. The pair star in the Canadian reality-TV series Conviction Kitchen, where they work with ex-convicts, and their bakery employs people who have come from halfway houses, shelters or rehab. The couple leased the 5,000-square-foot space to keep up with the demand for Petite Thuet’s breads and pastries. The bakery operates round-the-clock, delivering its products to hotels, restaurants and retailers daily, including big names such as the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and the CN Tower.

But soon after the bakery moved in last winter, complaints from nearby inhabitants began to pile up.

An employee at the Petit Thuet kitchen sorts baked goods on Nov. 2, 2018.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

Calvin Hwang, who’s lived in his fifth-floor apartment for close to 20 years, said the noise has never been louder. "Its unbearable,” Mr. Hwang said. “I can only imagine how it is for other people who are closer to the ground floor.”

A fourth-floor resident, Fiona Reid, said building residents have tried many times to address their concerns with their neighbour. She said while some employees she has spoken to have been understanding, others have been rude and belligerent. She described going downstairs at 6:00 one morning to complain and being sworn at.

“I was really taken aback,” Ms. Reid said. “After the verbal abuse, I will not go talk to them.”

Mr. Thuet and Ms. Zorich say they’ve taken steps to address the concerns. They stopped using a noisy service elevator for deliveries and now unload them by hand, and employees have been asked to shut off the music around 9 p.m. Some of the complaints relate to two loading periods. Trucks park in the lane way, and each load takes roughly an hour and a half, the first beginning at midnight and another around 6 a.m. Ms. Zorich said they make efforts to keep the noise to a minimum. Vehicles are not left to idle, all packing is done inside the bakery, and when the vans are loaded, they leave immediately.

Another employee prepares bread before it goes into one of the ovens in Mr. Thuet's industrial kitchen.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

Mr. Thuet and Ms. Zorich say they haven’t received complaints from any of the other tenants in the commercial building or from the residents on the other side of them, who live in lofts converted from a former garment factory.

Meanwhile, the neighbours who have lodged complaints with the city say it is not doing enough to protect those who live in mixed commercial-residential settings. A city inspector has visited the bakery once in the past month to discuss the complaints. The complainants have been provided with noise logs and the owner of the bakery property has been sent a letter stating that complaints have been made, said Joe Magalhaes, district manager of the city’s municipal licensing and standards division. Under the noise bylaw, “loading, unloading, delivering, packing, unpacking” is prohibited between 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sundays. Mr. Magalhaes said if the city finds bylaws have been broken, violators are subject to fines of up to $5,000.

Toronto has recognized it may need to rethink how it regulates noise. The newly elected city council is expected to review proposed changes to the noise bylaw in the second quarter of 2019 as part of a review that started in 2015.

The bakery operates round-the-clock, delivering its products to hotels, restaurants and retailers daily, including big names such as the Fairmont Royal York Hotel and the CN Tower.Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

A city interim report proposed a system where complaints are assigned high, medium or low priorities, with high-priority complaints investigated within 24 hours. Currently the city is expected to respond to noise from licensed establishments within 48 hours and noise from construction and private residences within five days.

“A lot of areas that didn’t have residential components to it now do, and they’re mixed in with those other commercial and industrial uses,” Mr. Magalhaes said. “It may not have been an issue for businesses in the past, but they need to take measures to mitigate the impact of noise on residents.”

Tor Oiamo, a professor at Ryerson University, conducted research for Toronto’s 2017 environmental noise study. He said in large cities such as Toronto, mixed land use is inevitable. And that means more conflict.

“Noise is a problem that will continue to increase as the city get more urbanized and more dense,” Mr. Oiamo said. “It’s time we start prioritizing it.”

Christopher Katsarov/Globe and Mail

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