Tuesday morning, Mathieu Grondin, co-founder of the non-profit organization MTL 24/24, invited us to meet at the PHI Center $teven Ra$pa, co-director of the Burning Man event, and Mirik Milan, ex-mayor of the Amsterdam night.
The first time we discussed the importance of nightlife with Mathieu Grondin was in a completely different context, in February 2021. Our meeting took place in the middle of a deserted Place des Festivals as we approached curfew then in effect.
It was one of the most depressing times of the pandemic. Mathieu Grondin then proposed holding a conference and test services with a bar service that extends after 3 a.m., which seemed unrealistic in a context of confinement.
The time has passed. On Wednesday and Thursday, the PHI Center will host the third Summit of the Night as a fourth “non-stop” music pilot is planned for this weekend in Old Montreal. This time — a first in Canada — 36 hours of dancing are on the program, from 10 p.m. Friday to 8 a.m. Sunday. “For two nights,” rejoices Mathieu Grondin.
“We have a mayor who was willing to try extensions past 3 a.m. and we’ve been able to demonstrate that it has little impact on public safety…”
“But…,” he adds, raising his voice, “you need permanent permits. »
If Mathieu Grondin is listening to the City, he is starting to get impatient.
Even Ottawa City Council — not particularly known for its nightlife — approved an Action Plan for the Nightlife Economy a week ago, which includes the possible appointment of a commissioner. Case manager Emmanuel Rey will take part in a governance panel during the Night Summit.
A nightlife policy was among Projet Montréal’s election promises in 2017, and Mayor Valérie Plante announced a filing for 2023 last year. “We’ve been waiting for six years,” says Mathieu Grondin.
In an ideal world, the person at the head of the nocturnal governance structure would be a sorteux or even a “former raver”, illustrates Mathieu Grondin.
Why not him? He likes his role as an activist and mayor of the night out of spite. “You need someone who understands the reality on the ground,” he says nonetheless.
For the moment, nightlife falls under economic development, for which the mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal, Luc Rabouin, is responsible.
It will probably be in the fall that the City of Montreal will unveil its policy, he told La Presse. The head of economic development on the executive committee promises a “more systematic approach” for event organizers. It is important “to install a governance of the nightlife” which will be in place in the long term, argues Luc Rabouin.
To support its claims, MTL 24/24 can now count on a new study, the presentation of the results of which will launch the Sommet de la nuit.
The study, called Creative Footprint, was conducted in four other cities besides Montreal—Berlin, Tokyo, New York, and Stockholm—allowing for comparisons. First salient point: the places of diffusion of the central districts of Montreal undergo less pressure real estate compared to other metropolises, teaches us Diana Raiselis, of the company VideLab, which carried out the study.
However, most of the 271 places listed are concentrated in the boroughs of Ville-Marie and Plateau-Mont-Royal, then in Le Sud-Ouest and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie. There would be potential for nighttime activities elsewhere.
When it comes to diversity and quality of programming, Montreal gets high marks, but it does less well when it comes to “framework conditions” for nightlife. “Small event organizers like the big ones say they don’t have a fairly clear interlocutor and regulatory framework,” summarizes Diana Raiselis.
“Data can guide cities in their decisions,” continues Mirik Milan, ex-night mayor of Amsterdam and co-founder of VideLab.
It is important for cities to have a nightlife strategy, he argues. If only to attract tourists or students.
It’s also important for the residents, adds $teven Ra$pa, one of the co-directors of the legendary Burning Man event.
Later this Wednesday, he will give a free talk about what “real” cities can learn from the temporary city that forms every year in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
The night is a space, he explains. “And culture is a factor of social cohesion that allows people to create authentic connections and manifest their vulnerabilities. »
A first version of this article was published without Luc Rabouin’s reaction.