Montreal's bid to extend its bar hours until 6 a.m. has been nixed by the Quebec liquor board, which offered a sobering critique of an idea that had been presented as a boost to the city's nightlife.
The decision is a setback to Mayor Denis Coderre, who had promoted the idea as a way for Montreal to draw tourists and emulate big cities around the world.
The liquor board, which had the ultimate say on the matter, saw things differently. In its ruling on Wednesday, it said the city had presented a proposal with no studies, poor planning and inadequate concern for its impact.
"We're disappointed to see that the economic perspective took so much room in the [city's] proposal, while in reality, the issue of public health is completely absent," the board said.
It said the idea ran "contrary to the public interest" and was likely to harm "public tranquility."
The mayor had wanted to try all-night bar hours as an experiment on two downtown streets for four consecutive extended weekends. The project, involving 19 bars, was to launch on Thursday. The mayor had said it would be evaluated after the trial period.
Reacting to the board's ruling, Mr. Coderre denied his pet project was poorly thought out. "This is a missed opportunity for Montreal," he said on Wednesday.
Proponents argued that extending bar hours until sunrise would cause less mayhem than having patrons spill out onto the street all at once at 3 a.m., the current closing time in Montreal.
The liquor board's 11th-hour decision let down some bar owners. Some had made staffing adjustments and paid $260 for a permit. "It's a last-minute disappointment. It would have brought more people downtown. People would have had a little fun," said Ziggy Eichenbaum, owner of Ziggy's Pub on Crescent Street.