The province's alcohol and gaming board has rejected the City of Montreal's pilot project to allow some downtown bars to extend their hours and serve alcohol until 5:30 a.m.
In its decision, rendered Wednesday afternoon, the board said not enough planning went into Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre's proposal.
"We find that the design and planning of a project with such importance and such sensitivity to the population is
deficient. Such a project merits taking the time to reflect and document its feasibility in light of the results and experiences elsewhere worldwide," the board said in its 38-page decision.
The pilot project, which was expected to begin this weekend and last until July 6, would have seen 19 bars on Crescent and St-Denis streets stay open until 6 a.m. and serve alcohol until 5:30 a.m.
- Some Montreal bars to serve alcohol until 5:30 a.m.
- Could bars open until 6 a.m. be in Montreal's future?
- Coderre says Montreal would be safer if bars stayed open longer
The board, which governs alcohol and gaming in the province, said the proposal focused too narrowly on potential economic benefits.
"We are disappointed that the economic outlook has carried so much weight in the proposal, while the issue of public health was completely absent," the decision read.
Mayor Denis Coderre tweeted shortly after the decision was rendered.
Décision de la RACJQ: une occasion ratée pour Montréal. La sécurité était assurée (SPVM) et Educ'alcool était d'accord avec l'expérience.— DenisCoderre (@DenisCoderre) June 11, 2014
"It's a missed opportunity for Montreal," his tweet read, adding that police were ready to ensure public safety and that the alcohol-awareness group Educ'alcool also supported the experiment.
Merchants feel let down
Bar owners who planned to take part in the project said they were disappointed by the board's decision to quash the plan.
"It was a pilot project, so I said ‘Let’s try it.’ I was not against it, and I was not for it, but we have to try something to get the downtown core rejuvenated a little bit," said Ziggy Eichenbaum, the owner of Ziggy's Pub.
"We were going to do it for four weekends in a row and then stop it and then decide if it’s worth it or not." he said.