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Quebec liquor board nixes plan for all-night bars in Montreal

James Lazar photo: July 21, 2011 - A walk In the Montreal rain. While most people sought shelter from the rain, this couple chose to enjoy the reduced traffic on the sidewalk. Serious Montrealers are not deterred from the nightlife by a bit of rain!

James Lazar

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.

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"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.

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About the Author

Ingrid Peritz has been a Montreal-based correspondent for The Globe and Mail since 1998. Her reporting on the plight of Canadians suffering from the damaging effects of the drug thalidomide helped victims obtain federal compensation and earned The Globe and Mail a National Newspaper Award, Canadian Journalism Foundation award, and the Michener Award for public service. More

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