12/07/2014 11:51 EST | Updated 02/06/2015 05:59 EST

Plateau retailers might soon stay open past 5 p.m. on weekends

Store owners in Montreal’s Plateau-Mont Royal borough want the right to extend their opening hours beyond 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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They're seeking an exemption from a provincial law that requires retail stores to close at 5 p.m. on weekends.

This week, Montreal’s executive committee agreed to bring a motion supporting that exemption to city council for a vote.

That’s a key step in a battle that Glenn Castanheira has been waging since 2001.

Castanheira, who heads a non-profit association of 600 retail stores and other businesses on St-Laurent Boulevard, says the the law hurts business.

“Consumer habits are continuously changing,” he said.

“People have a very active life and don't necessarily have time to shop early on the weekends.”

Plateau might be eligible for exemption

Plateau-Mont Royal businesses argue the area is the fourth most popular tourist destination in the city.

Tourist destinations, including Old Montreal and Chinatown, are exempt from the law and are able to keep their stores open outside proscribed hours.

Daniel Esteban is the owner of In-Stock Showroom on St-Laurent Boulevard, a boutique that opened three weeks ago.

Esteban said he was surprised to learn of the 5 p.m. rule, and he said it has an impact on the profitability of his business.

It also affects him as a shopper, since he works on weekends.

“As a business, do I want to stay open?” said Esteban.

“Yes. I want people to come in. As a shopper, I'd like to go shop later in the day.”

If Montreal city council passes the motion supporting the Plateau retailers, the city will need to ask the provincial government for approval.