Hull bars push to stay open until 3 a.m.
Bars in the Hull district of Gatineau are lobbying for the right to stay open as late as bars in the rest of the city and an hour longer than bars in neighbouring Ottawa.
Hull bars used to stay open until 3 a.m., but they now close at 2 a.m., thanks to a city bylaw that was changed 10 years ago over concerns about fights andvandalism blamed on rowdy bar patrons.
At the time, many Ottawa bar patrons would head to Hull for two more hours of drinking after bars on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River shut down at 1 a.m.
But things have changed since then, say Hull bar owners such as Maxime Gauld, who runs Le Petit Chicago.
For one thing, bars in Ottawa can now also stay open until 2 a.m.
"There's still … arrests and stuff but it's always minor problems," Gauld said Tuesday. "We now count maybe a fifth or a sixth or a seventh of the amount of bars that were here about ten years ago."
It's hard for Hull bars to compete with bars in other parts of Gatineau that can stay open an extra hour, he said. Gauld has also suffereda 10 to 20 per cent drop in sales since a provincial smoking ban came into effect1½ years ago, he said.
Hull bar owners said they will consult with local residents before formally asking the city to change the rules.
The city councillor for Hull district isn't sold on the idea.
Denise Laferrière said she thinks extending operating hours could bring more people to the bars, but also more trouble, especially since the legal drinking age in Quebec is 18— a year younger than in Ontario.
Gatineau Mayor Marc Bureau said he will also need to be convinced that extending bar opening hours would benefit Hull and its residents.