A proposal to build a new Tim Hortons in town is stirring up the District of Squamish council.
The project, planned on land that used to be the site of a bulk fuelling station, would see a Tim Hortons and CIBC bank built on five lots on the corner of Garibaldi Road and Government Road.
The properties are currently zoned for tourist commercial use, which needs to be amended to allow for the drive-through bank, district planner Sabina Foofat told council on Tuesday (Nov. 6).
Primary discussion has centred on traffic impacts, she said. Because of the site’s proximity to Highway 99, the Ministry of Transportation has signing authority over whether the proposal can proceed or not, Foofat noted, adding that the ministry has given the project its stamp of approval.
But councillors have said it might not be such an easy decision. The proponent’s traffic engineers, Bunt and Associates, have recommended a three-way stop at Garibaldi Way and Government Road to accommodate the additional traffic, a move Coun. Ted Prior said will upset many residents. Government Road is often used by locals as a through-way, he said.
“There are going to be a lot of cranky people at the stop sign,” he warned.
The three-way intersection may slow drivers down as they approach the school zone south of Garibaldi Way, Foofat noted. A left-hand turn lane off Garibaldi Way south onto Government Road has also been recommended, as well as a right-hand turn lane off Garibaldi Way north onto Government Road.
“People will be able to clear Garibaldi Way at regular intervals,” Foofat said.
The drive-through component itself split council members’ support. The district advertises itself as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada, so the last thing the community needs are more drive-throughs, Coun. Susan Chapelle said.
“I would rather encourage driving into our community, rather than drive through,” she said.
Coun. Bryan Raiser said he would love to see the brownfield site developed, but that he had no desire to increase the number of drive-throughs in town.
“People spend more money when they get out of their cars,” Raiser said.
Mayor and council constantly talk about boosting economic development, but unless it’s downtown and wrapped in an environmental green bow, some members don’t give it a chance, Coun. Ron Sander said.
“There is a market for this type of development,” he said, noting he wants to hear what residents have to say.
The proposal represents a local small business owner that wants to expand, Mayor Rob Kirkham said, noting the employment opportunities. Drive-through banks don’t create big line-ups, Kirkham said.
“I think that area is underserved for financial institutions,” he said, adding council shouldn’t limit competition.
Coun. Patricia Heintzman said she has always voted against drive-throughs in the past.
“It seems like a very odd spot for a bank,” she added.
When a drive-through was proposed for Britannia Beach, Coun. Doug Race said nay as a member of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District board. Race said he’s inclined to go the same way with this project.
Council gave the proposal first and second reading. The project will go to a public hearing on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at 6 p.m. at municipal hall.