British Columbia

Amsterdam's 'Night Mayor' has made its nightlife safer. Could Vancouver do the same?

As the city's "night mayor," Mirik Milan oversees Amsterdam's popular nightlife. His role could serve as a provocative template for Vancouver, which is grappling with safety issues.

Mirik Milan is a liaison between Amsterdam's city hall and nightlife industry

A strip club on Granville Street in the Entertainment District. (David Horemans/CBC)

His job title might be Night Mayor, but Mirik Milan works 9-to-5 hours.

The Dutchman oversees the thriving nightlife in the city of Amsterdam, which involves closely working with city officials.  

"I call myself a rebel in a suit," Milan said on CBC's On The Coast. "You need to speak the same language as the people in city hall to get something done." 

In 2013, Milan was elected the Night Mayor, which is a liaison between the mayor and councillors and the city's nightlife and creative industries.

A non-profit in Amsterdam launched the role — believed to be the first of its kind — to boost the city's nightlife and establish better safety measures.

Milan will end his term as Night Mayor this year. (Alex Migdal/CBC)

It's proven so successful that other cities, such as Paris and Zurich, have adopted the model. 

Milan was visiting Vancouver on Wednesday for a panel discussion on the future of Vancouver's nightlife.

His role could serve as a provocative template for the city, which is grappling with safety issues in its entertainment district. 

Amsterdam venues open 24 hours

Bar hoppers, long lineups and brawls are typical scenes along Granville Street in downtown Vancouver. 

The death of a nightclub worker in January renewed concerns about safety in the area. 

Recent initiatives — such as a nightlife safety team patrolling the street — have been introduced to bolster security.

Granville Street has been a regular site of crime, prompting calls for better security. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC)

But revamping nightlife policy doesn't happen overnight, Milan said. 

His office introduced 24-hour licences in 2013 for venues on the outskirts of Amsterdam.

The licences, he said, prevent the mass migration of bar goers from venues, vastly reducing street noise. 

The city also introduced patrollers in the the bar-filled Rembrandtplein square. 

The area has seen alcohol-related violence drop by 25 per cent and nuisance complaints fall by 30 per cent, Milan said. 

Cities benefit from having a vibrant nightlife, which can attract creative industries and drive local economies, Milan noted. 

"I truly believe that having this culturally diverse nightlife will lead to a more socially and ethnically inclusive city," he said. 

With files from CBC's On The Coast