MONTREAL - Montreal's mayor is putting his city's renowned nightlife to the test — and taking a shot at rival Toronto in the process.
Denis Coderre says he will allow bars on two downtown streets this summer to serve alcohol until 5:30 a.m., two and a half hours later than liquor laws currently allow.
Busy stretches of Crescent and Saint-Denis Streets will be part of the trial.
"The fact that we're having that pilot project, at least we'll know," Coderre said.
"It doesn't mean that it will be in every borough. It means that downtown you might have the capacity to do it."
The trial will run from June 12 to July 5, during weekends only.
The populist mayor used Friday's announcement to lob a playful jab at Toronto, saying that a metropolis "should be fun."
Last call in Canada's largest city is 2 a.m.
"There is a nightlife in Montreal. The only reason there is one in Toronto is because there's a half a million Montrealers who have moved there," Coderre told reporters.
Coderre's comments prompted a good natured retort from former Ontario premier Bob Rae.
"Denis Coderre says we have no nightlife in Toronto. Arlene and I are going to bed now. We've had our cocoa. What does Denis know?" Rae tweeted Saturday.
Coderre said his city's traditional 3 a.m. cut off for alcohol sales causes problems because too many people head out into the streets at the same time, especially during the party-filled summer months.
Montreal's police chief is on board with the project, he added.
Coderre said the city will evaluate the economic and social impact of the extended hours before deciding whether to make the change permanent.
Not everyone is happy with the trial.
The head of an association of Quebec bar owners is upset with the move, but only because he'd like all downtown bars to be able to stay open until dawn.
Peter Sergakis, who owns a number of downtown bars and restaurants, said he's received dozens of complains from fellow bar owners.
He said it's unacceptable that a small number of bars will reap the benefits of the extended hours, while hundreds of others will close their doors at 3 a.m.
"What will the other bars do? All the patrons will go to the bars that will be open late."
- with files from Louis Cloutier
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