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Montreal outlines policy for new nightlife district

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Officials with the City of Montreal say they plan to create "nocturnal zones" in neighbourhoods across the metropolis in addition to having a 24-hour nightlife district, according to Noovo Info.

In a document set to be unveiled on Tuesday, officials say they want to find a solution to the "issue of cohabitation" between the city's nightlife industry and residents who live in those busier neighbourhoods.

"Montreal is known for its nightlife; it's part of our DNA. This policy will be framed to ensure its vitality while preserving the residents' quality of life," explains Luc Rabouin, president of the executive committee and mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough.

Contrary to popular belief, the new 24-hour district will not necessarily be in the Quartier Latin.

Officials say they are awaiting the outcome of the public consultations, set to take place over the next few months, before making a final decision.

"The first 24-hour district will be downtown. The Quartier Latin is one of the options but we want people to tell us where the right place is," said Rabouin. "A 24-hour district is a place where it will be easier to hold nighttime activities, but it's not a neighbourhood where everything will be open 24 hours a day."

The city says part of its plan is to establish "nocturnal zones."

"A cultural venue or establishment could be designated a 24-hour location even if it's not in a 24-hour zone," said Rabouin. "But only if we believe that the right conditions are in place."

The officials note this zoning will not just be for bars and clubs.

The new regulations hope to make it easier to also hold overnight events at a museum or theatre, explains Ericka Alneus, the executive committee member responsible for culture.

"All the cultural players in the party scene need to have their say, and we need to have the right tools to make their work shine," she said.

The municipal administration notes it hopes that extending opening hours and allowing special events will generate significant economic revenue for the city.

This "untapped potential" could reach up to $1.6 billion, according to some estimates, more than the current $900 million in economic spin-offs.

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante and her government say they also want to review the laws surrounding noise and cohabitation.

"If the solution was really simple, we would have implemented it. It's obvious that citizens have a right to peace and quiet," said Rabouin. "But the venues also have a right to function. We need to create regulations that inspectors can enforce with clear criteria, not just based on someone talking loudly."

The city says it is prepared to spend up to $100,000 per establishment to soundproof them.

"Instead of having one bylaw for everyone, we could have different standards depending on the soundproofing of the venue," Rabouin said. "We're studying the possibility of having standards tailored to each location...We must adjust our regulations to better accommodate everyone's realities: residents and establishments alike."

Montreal says it may also follow in the footsteps of cities like Berlin, Ger. which encourage clubs to open in more isolated neighbourhoods.

"In order to prevent noise pollution, proposals for temporary or permanent nighttime activities that are far from residential areas would be facilitated," the policy notes. "The city wishes to define an official process for this, with the aim of simplifying their development and ensuring appropriate supervision."

The new nightlife policy also includes a call for options to facilitate nighttime travel.

Though some may hope to see the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) offer 24-hour Metro service on weekends, Rabouin says the agency's financial limitations make it impossible in the short term. 

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