The backer of a proposed new Tim Hortons and CIBC said this week that the property’s zoning allows her to build two drive-through restaurants, but the bank seems a better fit.
At a Tuesday (Nov. 20) public hearing on the development slated for the corner of Garibaldi Way and Government Road, Michelle Charlton said originally two restaurants were considered on the site.
“Then later in spring, we got a call from CIBC,” she told the District of Squamish council.
The bank portion of the plan requires rezoning, as the former bulk fuel site is currently zoned for tourist commercial use, which allows drive-through restaurants, but not financial institutions.
CIBC’s proposal made sense, Charlton said. The bank would cause less traffic congestion than an additional restaurant and provide permanent employment for locals, she said. It’s less intrusive to neighbours and fills a banking gap in the community, Charlton noted.
To accommodate the development, the proposal provides three additional lanes at the already problematic Garibaldi and Government intersection, she said. An in-depth traffic report was undertaken by Bunts and Associates, as the Ministry of Transportation (MOT) has signing authority over the project because the site fronts Highway 99. The study has received the ministry’s stamp of approval.
A three-way stop is recommended at Garibaldi Way and Government Road. A left-hand turn off Garibaldi Way south onto Government Road is also slated, as well as a right-hand turn lane off Garibaldi Way north onto Government Road. The access points on Garibaldi are limited to right-in and right-out traffic flows. The development also adds a new bike lane along that roadway, Charlton said.
Not everyone was impressed by the changes recommended for the intersection. Traffic would double in the area and an exit and entrance from the project within 90 metres of each other is a major concern, said Carole Bird, co-owner of Two Birds Eatery. A daycare and elementary school are located in close proximity to the proposal, she added.
The Squamish Trails Society (STS) highlighted 12 suggestions with regard to the intersection, STS president Bob Brant said. Safety concerns centre on the potential for traffic to stack up on Garibaldi Way and Government Road, which poses additional risks for pedestrians and cyclists, he said.
In a letter to council, STS members say they would like to see on-road rumble strips installed where vehicles head off of Highway 99 onto Garibaldi Way. The strips, and possibly caution signs, could help alert drivers of pedestrians, cyclists and vehicular interactions, the letter noted.
A clearly marked bike lane will help reduce risks, as would intersection lighting, STS stated. One question left unanswered is what kind of traffic volume the drive-through would create, the letter noted.
“Such information is necessary for us to get a sense of what to expect and how it can be dealt with,” the STS letter stated.
The society does view the three-way stop at the intersection as an improvement, Brant said. Charlton said the STS made some good suggestions, most of which can likely be included in the development.
Historically, municipal officials have recognized that there are two major lobes within Squamish — one downtown and one at Garibaldi, former councillor and mayor Corinne Lonsdale said. Sixty per cent of Squamish’s population lives north of the Mamquam Bridge, she added, noting placing a CIBC in the area would allow residents to get out of their cars and walk to the financial institution. The project would generate “family supportive jobs,” Lonsdale said.
“This community can always use an extension of our community tax base,” she said.
The proposal is set to go before council for consideration of third reading and final approval.