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More perches for night owls?

Revelers who want to party late into the night will have more bars to choose from at this year’s Pride – probably.

Last year, only four bars were granted extended hours, but this year the number of applicants has tripled to 12. Organizers expect that Fly, Five, the Black Eagle and Pope Joan among others will be able to serve booze as late as 4am Pride weekend. That’s because they’ve agreed to help out.

“We’ve been more aggressive in signing on community supporters among local businesses,” says Pride co-chair Kyle Knoeck. “Because we have more supporters, there are more businesses that are eligible for us to include in the application.”

In order to get extended hours, event organizers must apply to the city, explaining why the success of the event hinges on certain businesses serving alcohol past 2am. The city then applies to the Alcohol And Gaming Commission Of Ontario, which then checks with the police before making a decision.

Last year The Barn, Woody’s, Wilde Oscars and Crews/Tango made the cut.

Byzantium is one of the bars hoping to get the nod this time around.

“Last year, we didn’t know we were able to do that,” says owner Paul Beggs.

Just because a business has queer customers doesn’t mean it qualifies.

“We apply for bars that have some sort of formalized relationship with Pride,” says Knoeck. That relationship can be in the form of hard cash or by being a community supporter. “Community supporter is a category we have because we know a lot of local businesses can’t afford the amount of money to be a Pride sponsor, but we want to include them.

“Pope Joan is a supporter and they help with fundraising for the Dyke March.”

The rules may seem tough; the city is having a hard time getting extended hours for bars during the World Cup tournament in June.

“Our number one priority is always the public safety issue,” says AGCO spokesperson Ab Campion.

Campion says that having a dozen bars open late for such a local event isn’t an excessive number, but it’s up to the city to decide whether that’s reasonable.