Union Studio, a downtown Toronto boutique gym owned by members of rock group Our Lady Peace has closed following bylaw investigators claiming zoning rules were breached.
The Toronto Star reports the gym closed on March 18 and left eight trainers without work and the gym's users wondering when they'll be reimbursed for classes. The space previously served as the band's rehearsal space.
In October 2012, the city received a complaint which led to an investigation into the studio. Mark Sraga, director of investigation services at the city's municipal licensing and standards department, said in May 2013 a charge was laid against the company. The space was being use for a purpose contrary to the zoning bylaw.
"The owners were claiming it was a dance studio," Sraga said. However, Union Studio offered workouts on spin bikes as well as ballet-influenced barre classes. A March 17 tweet, one day before they closed, offered one-month of unlimited classes for $150 while a March 11 tweet offered a $130 special for 10 "Barre/Blast" classes.
Union Studio -- whose board of directors according to a corporate profile report included Our Lady Peace's Raine Maida, Duncan Coutts and Jeremy Taggart -- decided to close because of the charge. "The board of directors made a decision to close immediately to avoid any further legal exposure," Maida's spokesman Bob Adam told the publication in an emailed statement, adding the bylaw infraction "could not be easily remedied or defended."
Adam didn't reply to questions The Toronto Star had regarding how a resolution will be found or if Union Studio would be reopened. Adam said the company is evaluating "all obligations at the time of closing" and will "satisfy all obligations and communicate with each person and company involved."
Meanwhile, Sraga said the case will have a court date in May, adding the process for such a zoning bylaw infraction was similar to a "traffic violation." If found guilty Union Studio could be fined anywhere from a few hundred dollars up to $50,000. However Sraga also said to fall within the bylaw the studio could apply for a "minor variance" in order to be exempted from zoning regulations.
As for those employed at Union Studio, trainer Christie Ness (who was also Union Studio's general manager) told the publication none of the trainers who worked at the space have received their final paycheques. "They've communicated that they're collecting invoices and that they're going through it all," Ness said.
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HipUrbanGirl.com reported in September 2012 the space was a 2800 square-foot studio spread out over two levels with the maximum class sizes being 15 people. At the time Union Studio was planning to offer more than 115 classes each week with prices ranging from $20 to $35 per class.
A November, 2012 BlogTO review of the space said it was "visually pleasing" but "there are elements of the physical space that may not be appealing for some." Some complaints in the review cited it was "very cold" in terms of temperature and the women's change room, while "sleek and contemporary," is "small and very open, which means that it could easily get crowded, and there is no privacy."
Maida, Coutts or Taggart have not mentioned the Union Studio situation on their individual social media sites or on the band site. However, on April 4 Taggart tweeted a special anniversary regarding his time in the band:
Our Lady Peace are currently off the road. The group released its last studio album "Curve" in 2012 and Raine Maida was last seen presenting the 2014 Juno Award for Album of the Year to Arcade Fire's "Reflektor."
This year marks the 20th anniversary of "Naveed," but the band's website says "we have decided to [postpone our anniversary tour for an undetermined length of time."
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