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Amsterdam is about to host the first Night Mayor Summit

Canal Reflections by Peter Elliston on

What is a night mayor, you might ask?

Well, just as the name suggests, a night mayor is the chief executive officer of a city’s nighttime activity. And in 2014, Amsterdam became the first city ever to have one.

Why is this important, you might ask?

Well, for most cities the night is a blindspot. It’s viewed as something that needs to be carefully controlled as opposed to something that is celebrated and leveraged. Amsterdam saw this opportunity and, in my opinion, is now at the forefront of rethinking the night.

Here’s an example of the kind of changes that this has meant for the city (via CityLab):

“Until recently, Amsterdam enforced what by continental European standards is a fairly strict curfew: nightclubs had to close by 4 a.m. on weekdays and 5 a.m. on weekends. The city often had problems with noise and disorder at the exact moment when all the clubs closed, filling narrow inner city streets with rowdy people.

To solve this problem, the night mayor suggested not less, but more time for people to go clubbing. He has helped push through the granting of 10 24-hour licenses for nightclubs. Crucially, all of them were located not in the dense city center but in thinly populated districts around Amsterdam’s outer ring road. The result was a marked reduction in street noise.”

Some of you are probably feeling skeptical as you read this. Especially since 4AM and 5AM hardly seem strict when compared to other cities (Toronto’s last call is at 2AM). 

But I would not underestimate the importance of what Amsterdam is doing. We are living in an era of the 24-hour global city and it’s about time that governments woke up to that. I’m sorry Toronto, but 2AM is an absolute joke.

The night can be your competitive advantage in attracting human capital. As the CityLab article cited above suggests, a big part of what transformed Berlin into a capital of cool was its nightlife. 

I wholeheartedly believe that and I have no doubt that the night will start to become a greater focus in city building.

If you’d like to learn more about the Night Mayor Summit, click here.

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