Ottawa

Council debating 4 a.m. patio extension for Canada Day

A scant two weeks before the Canada Day partying is expected to shift into high gear, Ottawa city council today will debate whether patios can stay open until 4 a.m. from June 30 to July 2. But it's not at all clear there's enough time for any patio who might want to apply to serve alcohol that late.

Nightclubs related to Escapade electronic music festival also looking to stay open until 4 a.m.

Council will discuss allowing outdoor patios to stay open until 4 a.m. on the Canada Day weekend - even though none have applied. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

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  • Council approved extended patio hours on June 14. Councillors will get the final say in their wards.

With a little more than two weeks before the sesquicentennial partying is expected to shift into high gear, Ottawa city council today will debate whether patios can stay open until 4 a.m. on the Canada Day weekend, even though none have applied to do so.

Last week, transportation committee passed a two-pronged motion that dealt with longer serving hours for patios. That will go to council this morning for final approval.

The first part of the motion was specifically about the Fox and the Feather on Elgin Street. There are about 90 patios across the city that encroach on city property, and they're only allowed to be open until 11 p.m. Fox and the Feather is one of them, and has asked permission to be able to stay open until 2 a.m. for the holiday weekend, from June 30 to July 2.

As 2 a.m. is the usual closing time for bars, the request isn't expected to be controversial.

The second part of the motion would give the general manager of planning the authority to deal with any other requests for late-night patio revelling. However, instead of extending the option for all patios to stay open until 2 a.m., the speaks to allowing patios to be open until 4 a.m., a request that apparently no one has made.

The city can give permission for patios to be in operation late into the night, but it cannot give establishments permission to serve alcohol past 2 a.m. To extend drinking hours, a bar or restaurant owner would need to apply to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). These sorts of applications usually take 30 days to process, although the provincial agency can fast-track approvals.

More requests tied to Escapade festival

In the meantime, someone has been talking to the city since May 29 to extend serving hours at as many five nightclubs, both during the Escapade electronic music festival weekend in late June, and possibly Canada Day.

The city "is aware of one request for an extension until 4 a.m. on Canada Day," according to an emailed statement attributed to Dan Brisebois, the director of 2017 operations for the city's emergency services department. "The request is on behalf of five establishments. Most of these locations are nightclubs and do not have patios."

CBC has learned the group speaking with the city is related to Escapade, the electronic dance music festival coming to Lansdowne Park on June 24 and 25.

The group has already applied to the AGCO to extend drinking hours at some establishments during the festival weekend, and is now in consultation with the city about the possibility of some nightclubs also staying open late on Canada Day weekend.

Last-minute extensions approved before

With just 16 days left before the Canada Day weekend, it's getting late for establishment to apply to extend their drinking hours past 2 a.m.

But that doesn't mean the approvals can't be pulled off.

A number of bars in the ByWard Market had applied earlier this year to stay open until 4 a.m. for the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in early March. Their applications were originally rejected by AGCO after the city recommended against the extended hours because of pressure on emergency services.

But at the 11th hour, Mayor Jim Watson asked the city manager to re-assess the situation. The city asked the AGCO to reconsider its decision and the bars got to stay open until 4 a.m. 

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