Toronto bars and restaurants may be allowed to sell liquor as early as 6 a.m. next weekend for the Winter Olympics.
Councillor Mike Layton will move a motion at council next week asking to extend the sale of alcohol to begin at 6 a.m. from next Thursday through Sunday. These dates coincide with the final men’s and women’s ice hockey matches that because of the time difference, will air as early as 7 a.m. ET. The women’s gold medal game is set for next Thursday, while the men’s gold medal game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 23.
Currently, alcohol can only be sold in Ontario after 11 a.m. Mr. Layton’s motion applies for most of the city, except for Wards 9 and 24 (York Centre and Willowdale), where local councillors have asked to be exempted.
Mr. Layton said he decided to move the motion after someone suggested it to him on Twitter, and emphasized that it’s intended to encourage communities to gather and cheer on their country, rather than simply about consuming alcohol.
“There’s this element of community and celebration that happens when you watch sports together as a group,” he said.
Even if the motion is passed, he said he believes it will be more of a symbolic move than anything. “I don’t think a lot of people will be taking us up on it at 6:00,” he said. “I think it’s more have your coffee, have your brunch or breakfast, and then maybe have your beer at 10:00 or 10:30.”
He added that he thought about opening up the hours for other sports too, but decided to focus on the final hockey weekend specifically. “There’s a distinct connection between being out a restaurant or bar and watching a hockey game. It’s a strong association,” he said. “There also happens to be a strong association between watching a hockey game and perhaps having a beer.”
Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly, who has for the past week had a “Go Canada Go” sign plastered outside his office, said he supports the motion. “I don’t know how many people will take advantage of it, but for that short period of time and for that purpose, I’m all for it.”
In May of 2010, Toronto city council passed a similar motion for the FIFA World Cup, which allowed bars and restaurants to serve alcohol as early as 10 a.m.