MONTREAL – It was news that initially had party-goers excited, but Quebec’s Liquor Board announced late Wednesday it would not be allowing bars to stay open until 6 a.m., striking down a pilot project involving 19 bars on Crescent and Saint-Denis that would have started Thursday night and lasted for four weekends.
The board claims it would be against the public’s interest, but the decision has left some merchants upset.
“I was very surprised,” said Steve Siosios, president of the Crescent Street Merchant’s Association. “I thought trying out this pilot project was a good idea instead of spending countless dollars trying to study it.”
Montreal’s mayor was also disappointed, and said he’s not giving up.
“I think they made a mistake,” Denis Coderre said. “I think Montreal lost a tremendous opportunity.”
Montrealers had mixed feelings on the matter.
“They could have tried it. It wasn’t a law for a long-term, it was a test, so I think they should have tried it,” said one passerby who wasn’t happy with the decision.
“If you want to have a good time, I think 3:00 a.m. is a fair time, and I think there’s not enough security,” said another.
Crescent bar owners, however, argue this was something the downtown needed.
“We want to show people that it’s worth coming downtown,” said Siosios. “It’s been a couple of years since the protests, that people have avoided downtown, and it’s a good clientele that has stopped frequenting downtown as much as we’d like them to.”
Other bar owners disagreed. Alexandre Besnard, who co-owns Apartment 200 and several other bars in the city, said keeping bars open to sell a bit more alcohol is just not worth it.
“I think this targeted the 18 to 25 year-old demographic and I’m not sure we need to double alcohol intake for anybody, but especially our youth,” he said.
Besnard added most of the people that stay out until 3 a.m. are usually already intoxicated.
“We could stop selling alcohol at three, and close at four,” he said, arguing that it would be possible for both sides to find a middle ground. “I think that would get everybody on the same page.”
For now at least, the idea of extending last call has been put to bed.