Broadway’s public piano gets a stay from Town Council

June 29, 2017   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Pickford

One local merchant is happy to see common sense prevail after Town Council dealt with a dispute between his store and the municipality’s bylaw office.

Shayne MacDonald, owner of The Altered Native on Broadway, thought it would be a good idea to inject a little bit of life into the downtown core by placing a piano on the sidewalk in front of his store. While dozens of locals have jumped at the chance to showcase their skills in public over the past few weeks, the Town’s bylaw enforcers were not impressed when they learned the piano was placed there without a permit.

Responding to a complaint by an anonymous member of the public, bylaw officer Carrie Cunningham wrote Mr. MacDonald notifying him that he faced a fine of up to $5,000 if he did not remove the piano by June 23.

“The Town of Orangeville Littering By-law 56-99 regulates the dumping and disposal and debris and refuse onto municipal and private property within the Town of Orangeville,” Ms. Cunningham wrote.

Speaking to the Citizen this week, Shayne said he simply laughed when he first read the letter. He added that he couldn’t believe the Town would want to remove something that so many in the community have been enjoying. He posted the letter on social media and, from there, the issue “completely blew up.”

“I didn’t expect this to get so much publicity,” Mr. MacDonald said. Within 24 hours of posting this to The Altered Native’s Facebook page, it had more than a dozen shares and over 50 comments. The post was later shared to the Orangeville Q&A Facebook page, which was where Mayor Jeremy Williams learned of the issue.

“As right as our bylaw department staff are for doing this, it makes no sense,” Mayor Williams wrote on his Facebook page. “I will be asking our bylaw staff to hold off on laying charges … as I will bring this to council next week to ask that we give this idea a chance.”

During the week-long gap between Mayor Williams’ request and the issue coming before council, an online petition was launched calling for the Town to allow the community piano to stick around. As of press time 1,130 people had signed the petition.

At council on Monday night (June 26), Mayor Williams spoke of the positivity the piano brought to Broadway, stating it was a “truly wonderful thing”. Allison Scheel of the Orangeville Business Improvement Area said she would like to see the piano remain in its current location – chained to an old water fountain outside The Altered Native – provided it is properly cared for.

Coun. Don Kidd had his reservations though, saying Council would be setting a dangerous precedent if it allowed the piano to stay. Council subsequently voted in favour of the request.

“I’m thrilled that the piano will be sticking around. I think it’s great the Town decided to support it,” Mr. MacDonald said. “Lots of people seem to like it, I see people out playing it all the time. Orangeville is a very artistic town, so it’s cool to be able to provide a place for some of these people to express themselves.”

While the piano is currently covered by an industrial tarp at night and during bad weather, Mr. MacDonald says he hopes to be able to put up a more permanent form of shelter in the future. He assured the Citizen though that he would be following all the correct protocols and procedures when the time comes.

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