Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre says he wants bars to stay open until at least 6 a.m., and he's considering a pilot project to try it out.
Currently, last call is at 3 a.m.
The mayor said today he was impressed by how Montrealers behaved during last week’s all-night event Nuit Blanche and said the city is ready to go all night.
"I believe the time has come to start with a pilot project," Coderre said.
"The reason is pretty simple, and it’s also a matter of security," he said. "When we close the bars at 3 a.m., everybody is getting out into the street at the same time. And then you have some people fighting, you have some security problems, and of course you have the noise that comes with it."
Montrealers latched onto the news almost immediately, posting fervently to social media platforms in support.
“Good idea, Mr. Mayor!” said Jean-Jacques Beauchamps, the owner of a Pointe St-Charles bar and the chief executive of the Quebec Bar Owners Association.
Beauchamps said he would love to squeeze in a few extra hours of business, and said bars would actually be doing the city a service by letting customers cool off until the Metro opens.
Peter Sergakis, the owner of a dozen bars and president of the Quebec Bar Owners Association, said it’s about time.
“It’s an excellent idea. Definitely we should have a pilot project,” Sergakis said.
He said he has noticed a dip in tourism-related earnings and said a lot of hotels and other establishments that cater to tourists are suffering. He added that he’s even asking Coderre to extend the Ste-Catherine Street pedestrian mall from Atwater to Papineau avenues.
Good for business, not boroughs
“We’ve got to do something special to bring people to Montreal so the restaurants and bars can make money,” Sergakis said.
'We’re pretty happy when everyone is done and they go home.' - Alan Bruce, Brutopia manager
But not everyone views the idea favourably. Plateau borough councillor Christine Gosselin said Wednesday that Coderre hasn’t given the idea enough thought.
She is a member of a committee studying the impact of bars on neighbourhoods. According to her, there are 500 businesses licensed to sell alcohol in the borough and would like to settle existing issues between residents and bar clientele and owners before extending bars’ operating hours.
“Montreal was always full of these little corner taverns, which were not very popular or very loud. And now they’ve become these hot spots. You've got people in the alley smoking, they're outside people's windows,” she said.
"On a weekly basis, I have to deal with cases where the close proximity of bars and live music venues in residential areas causes many spillover problems that are directly related to the night life," she adds.
Coderre said he's aware of how the Plateau-Mont-Royal feels about the issue, but still feels the time has come.
Better if optional
Alan Bruce, the manager of Brutopia on lower Crescent Street, said he’s not against the idea of staying open until 6 a.m. — as long as it’s not obligatory.
He said the bar probably wouldn’t have much business between the hours of 3 and 6 a.m.
“The customers who are there at last call are the ones who are not that interested in going home in the first place. We’re pretty happy when everyone is done and they go home,” Bruce said.
“Staying open ‘til 6 a.m. is great if you have the choice, but we wouldn’t want to feel obliged to have to stay open ‘til 6 a.m. every day,” he continues.
There’s no word yet on if or when the pilot project will start and where, but Coderre said he wants to try it out on a street with lots of bars for a short period of time and then hold public consultations so city council can better examine the issue.