Later Last Call Could Boost City’s Economy

Graphic Eric Bent

Just for Laughs co-founder Gilbert Rozon recently proposed the idea of keeping bars in Montreal’s downtown core open until 6:00 a.m.—three hours later than the current province-wide 3:00 a.m. closing time.

Let’s get the basics out of the way: more drinking = more awesome. Pretty basic math; I don’t think I need to convince any of you when it comes to that. Nevertheless, there’s more to this idea than meets the eye—or liver, as the case may be.

For instance, it’s worth considering that it has the potential to be pretty fruitful when it comes to our city’s economy.

This law would be effective year-round, meaning the city of Montreal would likely see a spike in tourism outside of the summer months—extending the attraction of the city’s nightlife through the off-season and boosting the economy during the traditionally slower months.

According to Tourism Montreal’s 2009 annual report, American tourism has declined due to the high Canadian dollar and the required passport law.

If Montreal alters their drinking legislation they could potentially see more cross-border visitors, especially coming from the U.S., where the drinking age is 21.

Not only would this altered legislation draw in foreign visitors, but it could also attract Canadians living in a cities like Toronto, where the last call is currently 2:00 a.m.

Though they might not have been willing to make the trek for one measly extra hour of boozing might be a bit more willing for a full four.

With that in mind, this move is evidently a smart one for bar owners. Longer hours of operation would result in more profit from alcohol sales, benefiting not only the local club-and-bar economy, but also the provincial government, which collects a share of the income.

Not to mention the bartending, busboy, waiter and waitressing jobs that would open up—offering a slew of new opportunities for the university-aged people who tend to fill these jobs.

Another benefit coming with this delayed last call is that it would eliminate large crowds of drunken maniacs pouring into the streets after watering holes close their doors at 3:00 a.m. At times this outpour leads to drunken “incidents” breaking out, but the 6:00 a.m. last call would lead to a more dispersed, controlled exodus from bars.

This decision is good for business, but also in the best interests of those coming into the city from the suburbs—especially those who want to do some extra drinking. Those commuting from off-island will no longer have to cut their nights short needing to catch the last metro, which leaves anytime between 12:15 a.m. and 1:30 a.m., depending on the day of the week.

This added option when it comes to getting home could result in fewer drunk drivers, because with the Metro restarting again at 5:30 a.m., even West Islanders could take public transit home.

Above all, being able to drink past 3:00 a.m. will see fewer partygoers staying in for the night and more into Montreal’s already vibrant nightlife.