The District of Squamish has no formal policy on drive-throughs, but it’s time to take a look at that, some councillors say.
Recent conversation around the issue has been spurred by a proposal to build a new Tim Hortons and drive-through CIBC bank on the corner of Government Road and Garibaldi Way. The project is not the only chain coming to town. Councillors have noted that they’re expecting more applications.
Lacking the drive-through component, Ricky’s Restaurant is aiming to open a 52-seat all-day grill restaurant in the current Fatburger space at Garibaldi Village Shopping Centre.
“It is going to be a Ricky’s and Fatburger operating together,” restaurant spokesperson Sandy Short said, noting the venture will employee 15 new people. “There is definitely demand in Squamish for well-known restaurants.”
Coun. Susan Chapelle said she has nothing against chains because they’re locally owned; however, drive-throughs don’t fit with Squamish’s image.
“I believe that we need to have a policy that respects healthy living,” she said.
When Garibaldi Village Shopping Centre was constructed, Coun. Susan Chapelle said she was under the impression that that was the last of strip development along the highway. Numerous studies state that such highway-focused planning negatively affects downtown communities, she noted.
The municipality’s Official Community Plan (OCP) is ambivalent when it comes to drive-throughs, Coun. Patricia Heintzman said. Reviewed every five years, the plan is scheduled to be under the microscope in two to three years.
“I think we should be talking about [drive-throughs] beforehand,” Heinztman said, noting it could be addressed in the OCP or through eliminating drive-through allowance from tourist commercial use — the only zoning designation in which they’re permitted.
The time to examine the district’s drive-through and chain policies is during an Official Community Plan review, Coun. Ron Sander said, noting that process is conducted on a semi-regular basis.
In the meantime, the business community should be assured that if a property is zoned for specific uses, they can build those specific uses, he said. Developers have the right to expect such a consistency, Sander said. If the municipality continuously reneges on its zoning regulations, people will simply stop investing in Squamish, he said.
“You are really leaving yourself open to potential lawsuits,” Sander added.
Drive-throughs are identified as permissible in our policies and included in our zoning bylaw, Mayor Rob Kirkham stated in an email to The Chief.
“However, with the recent concerns that have been raised, I do believe that we should revisit the issue as a permissive use in the future,” he wrote.