The bar owners don’t want a police state, and don’t want early closing hours. Fair enough. But its a lot more complicated, as I am sure you know.
Every year, people from Toronto and parts west come to the Halifax Pop Explosion and are shocked by the late closings in Halifax. They are also shocked by how late people come out to drink. In Toronto bars are closed at 2am and people are at shows watching bands or dancing in a club by 9-10pm, here it is 10-11-12pm.
I am personally convinced that a 1am or 2am closing would not cost any bar lost sales. People would come out sooner and drink sooner and go home sooner. Bars might actually save money on staffing. The city would save money on policing.
One of the things you really notice in Toronto and Montreal is how many more adults in the 25-40 are in clubs, and at shows. Earlier closing times mean more 21+ age people are out, going to shows, seeing bands, dancing, having a martini, until close. When you have a show at the Attic where the headliner goes on stage at 1am or 2am, very few adults with day jobs can stay out until then.
The biggest issue of course is the cabarets. The only cabaret that is actually living up to its license is Grafton-Connor, with the Attic and the Dome. Cabaret was created for “quality live entertainment” and “good quality food”. Reflections and the Palace do not even have kitchens, and neither comes anywhere near the mandated 4 nights of live quality music. If you want to know about food service at these bars, they hand you a delivery menu for pizza! Unless the regulations have changed since I last reviewed it, if the actual letter of the law was enforced all the bars would loose their cabaret license except Grafton-Connor.
And cabaret might have made sense 30-40 years ago, but I don’t think it does now. Long gone are the days when 2,000 people cheered on Matt Minglewood or Soma on the stage of the Misty Moon until 3:30 am. There was a reason for this license, at that time. That time is past. Now most cabarets are warehouses where drunk people go to get even drunker between 2:30-3:30. What socially positive good does that serve?