Gatineau residents given more time to sound off on bar hours

The City of Gatineau is extending last call on an invitation to residents to sound off about whether bars in Hull should stay open until 3 a.m. as part of a pilot project.

City mulling return to 3 a.m. closing time in Hull sector

Bar owners in the Hull sector favour a return to the 3 a.m. closing time, but some residents oppose the move. (Radio-Canada)

The City of Gatineau is extending last call on an invitation to residents to sound off about whether bars in Hull should stay open until 3 a.m.

Nearly 2,000 people have offered their opinions via an online survey which was supposed to end Jan.15, but will now accept submissions until Jan. 31.

In 1997, the former City of Hull forced bars to match Ottawa's closing time of 2 a.m. in an effort to curb late-night noise and violence in the neighbourhood.

The area's councillor, Cédric Tessier, proposed last year to look at returning to a closing time of 3 a.m., the norm in the rest of Quebec.

Bars in the area support the change, saying it evens the playing field with those other businesses. 

"It's a pilot project, let's try it and see what happens," said Catherine Marseau, co-owner of Hull bar Ou Quoi.

"We will be the first to say, 'Look, this isn't working,' or, 'You have no reason to worry,'" she said in French.

Decision in the spring

Several of the approximately 20 people who attended a community meeting on the issue Wednesday said they feared returning to the bad old days of the 1990s.

"There was fighting, there was screaming and it cost a lot to police [the area]," said longtime downtown resident Michel Moreau in French.

"Lots of people had to go to court, which also costs more. I don't think we need to relive this."

The survey asks if bars should be allowed to extend their hours in certain areas, or across the entire district.

Gatineau city council is expected to vote on the issue in the spring.

with files from Nathalie Tremblay