Residents split over fast food chain
Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014 08:38 am
A popular coffee and donut franchise’s interest in Black Diamond is causing mixed emotions amongst residents, and even council.
Opinions are clashing since word got out that Calgary’s Jaymont Developers are planning to build a Tim Hortons restaurant in the town’s northeast, confirmed by Town of Black Diamond planning and development officer Rod Ross. Jaymont’s application calls for building a restaurant and strip mall with commercial units on the south half of a 1.5 acre lot at the intersection of Highway 7 and 3 St. NE.
Mike Kingston, owner of The Stop Coffee House and Gathering Place, said he’s watched coffee shops open in town only to shut down later. When it comes to a major chain like Tim Hortons, he said they’ll likely be successful and that might not be bad.
“We need to continue to develop our businesses in the community,” he said. “If they want to be a part of Black Diamond and make all the great contributions they do make I think that’s great.”
Kingston said he’s not losing any sleep over the possibility of competing with Tim Hortons.
“Any independent coffee shop like mine that’s been in business 11 years, inevitably at some point you are going to end up competing with Tim’s,” he said.
In a split vote on Feb. 5, Black Diamond council voted 4-3 in support of a request to change land use rules for the site to allow retail and personal service businesses on the site, but not a drive-thru.
At a public hearing prior to the vote, Jaymont’s consultant Doug Badke, of Badke Consulting in Calgary, did not specifically mention Tim Hortons, but said a major chain will enhance the community and provide employment for about 25 people.
“If it was a Tim’s I don’t see anything Tim’s would do to destroy something like that,” said Badke. “Coffee shops like that are great supporters of minor sports. I don’t think there is anything to be afraid of bringing in a drive thru and I certainly hope you approve.”
Approximately 50 people attended the hearing, with about half-a-dozen expressing concerns over a proposal to include a drive-thru in the plan for the site.
Black Diamond resident James Lee said a drive-thru would go against Black Diamond’s initiative to go green.
“If we allow cars to sit there and idle we can watch our carbon footprint just fly off the Richter scale,” he said. “This is a step backward. We are supposed to be a progressive community.”
Black Diamond business owner Debi Leong said she is concerned a chain restaurant could put the community’s small businesses at risk of closure.
“The decision this council makes on this proposal will change the footprint of Black Diamond forever,” she said. “There’s more than enough diversification here to go and have a coffee and go and have a sandwich. We don’t need a fast food chain.”
Coun. Michel Jackson said Black Diamond is a leader in renewable energy and the Town needs to be a leader when it comes to the environment.
“If we permit the drive thru we’re going against our own strategic plan, we’re going against our own sustainability plan,” he said.
Coun. Jackie Stickel responded by saying there could be ways to make the drive thru less desirable to reduce idling and prompt people to go in the restaurant.
Coun. Judy Thomson said not allowing a drive thru in Black Diamond will cripple the community.
“What are we going to do if a bank wants to move in here and wants the drive thru are we going to turn them away?” she said. “By not allowing this establishment here we would be very much retarding the economic development of this town. I don’t believe a drive thru is going to hurt us one bit.”
Ross disagreed, saying drive thrus increase traffic volume and suggested council revise its bylaws to eliminate their potential.
“We invest a lot of money in green in this town and have a green fund and promote green to our citizens and now we are telling them to roll on in and idle your cars for 15 minutes while you get your coffee,” he said. “That is not the message I want.”
Mayor Sharlene Brown agreed the town’s bylaws should be revised to remove drive ins, adding some districts are zoned for drive thrus that don’t have the space capacity.
“We may need to have a discussion where our community is going and where we want to see the community go,” she said. “We haven’t done that in 10 years and it’s on the list of things to do with this council.”