Should Edmonton appoint a 'night mayor?' Sohi and council are considering it

Calls to designate a "night mayor" in the Alberta capital are growing.

Some local business leaders want a city employee or councillor to be available on evenings and weekends to take calls from companies that make most of their money after 5 p.m.

"There is a lot of unbridled potential of having that type of an advocate in place and really kind of harnessing the nighttime economy," said Tyson Boyd from Starlite Room.

His downtown music venue has had a tough time during the pandemic and said the extra support would help.

"If we don’t have a strong fall or any type of support coming ahead…You know things look rather bleak," Boyd said.

The Old Strathcona Business Association is also on board with the idea.

"It’s just that recognition that this is an important industry," executive director Cherie Klassen said.

She believes some bars, restaurants, hotels and taxi companies feel like an after-thought when it comes to support from the city.

"Maybe just an organizer needs a question answered related to something that the city can help with (for example), but if it’s after 5 o’clock, that doesn’t exist," she explained.

So councillors have asked city staff to figure out the best way to support the evening economy, including appointing a dedicated “night mayor.”

The "day mayor" is cool with it.

"Our goal is to become such a thriving place in Edmonton and we need to empower people to create those kinds of opportunities during nighttime," Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said.

Advocates believe the support is needed urgently for small music venues as Edmonton is set to host the Juno Awards in March.

"I’m frankly really nervous about how many off-site venues we even have to host music events in anymore," said Puneeta McBryan with the Downtown Business Association.

Edmonton's Executive Committee is recommending that council order a study on a "night mayor" and other support for late-night businesses. The costs are not yet known.

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Jeremy Thompson