The city recently held its inaugural town hall meeting on the night economy, bringing together business owners, service providers, and resident groups. The goal is to enhance late-night businesses and prepare for upcoming regulatory changes. City Councilor Paul Ainslie, the designated “night economy champion,” spearheads the effort to foster a vibrant nighttime economy throughout the city, particularly between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The initiative, starting in 2019 with the appointment of a night economy ambassador and continued by Ainslie in 2022, aims to stimulate economic activity, particularly in entertainment and hospitality sectors, while maintaining harmony with residents. The town hall addresses private sector preparation for zoning and licensing changes set for 2025. By allowing nightclubs to open in commercial areas outside the downtown core, the city hopes to alleviate noise concerns for suburban residents and promote more diverse nighttime activities.
Club owners, including Charles Khabouth of INK Entertainment, express enthusiasm for extended operating hours, asserting that a 2 a.m. last call is outdated. They argue that a later timeframe could significantly contribute to the night economy. The city’s 2019 nightlife action plan suggested a potential nighttime economic output of $10.6 billion based on a study of New York City’s night economy, but the actual impact has been affected by COVID-19 lockdowns.
Beyond economic considerations, the town hall also addresses transit improvements and safety for nighttime activities. Despite budget challenges, stakeholders believe that fostering a safer and more accessible nighttime environment will benefit businesses and provide opportunities for those in the service industry or shift work. Overall, the town hall represents a step toward creating a more dynamic and inclusive nighttime economy in Toronto.