Estevan will get a second Tim Hortons location but it didn’t come without a bit of a fight.
Following one of the lengthiest debates in council chambers for some time, a development permit to place a store in the parking lot of the Estevan Shoppers Mall was passed by a 5-2 margin.
The decision to pass the motion came despite the objection of some residents in the area who had concerns about such issues as increased traffic on King Street, noise and litter.
Mayor Gary St. Onge, who voted for the new restaurant, said he appreciates the concerns of the residents who voiced their opposition but feels that issues such as noise were not enough of a reason to block the application
“I’m right beside a fitness place that opens at five in the morning and in the winter they run their oil trucks steady,” he said. “There is noise wherever you are if you are close to a commercial (location). It’s in a mall, that’s what it was intended for, commercial things.
“In terms of traffic, who do you blame it on, the last guy or the first ones that were there? At some point it will have to be addressed to make traffic flow better. I think they are really going to look in the next year at King Street to see what they can do.”
Speaking during the debate, Councillor Chris Istace, who along with Councillor Lynn Chipley voted against the motion, gave a rather impassioned speech against allowing a second Tim Hortons.
Like those who filed objections with the City, Istace feels the traffic issues that will be created by the decision were enough to stop the motion. Citing a 2010 traffic study, which was included with the application, Istace said council should not give the report much weight because it is outdated. He noted at the time of the report, the oilfield was going through a down period and that other developments such as Petterson Point and many of the new businesses along King Street and Kensington Avenue were not open at that time.
“At (the time of the report) there was only the Wholesale Club,” he said. “Now there are three businesses. The largest impact on traffic in that area alone is Petterson Point, which is three phases of condominiums. Also in the area we are going to be drawing from the new hotels. We all know that Tim Hortons is going to draw those types of businesses so that will come in the area.”
Istace said there are a number of things the City needs to eventually do to improve the traffic situation on King Street but fears the new restaurant will exacerbate the current problems and force the City to spend millions of dollars. Istace added he would also like to know who the owner of the new restaurant will be as he said there have been past concerns about the “corporate responsibility” of the owners at the Fourth Street location.
The first term councillor also suggested that the new location should be somewhere on the outskirts of the City similar to in Weyburn or perhaps the owners should wait until the new truck route is finished and build out there.
“Everybody knows that traffic is such an issue with Tim Hortons,” he said. “There is actually a discussion in Saskatoon to ban Tim Hortons and their drive-thrus in the city. Everything we have done to help them on Fourth Street has failed, drastically. That is a big four lane road.”
Speaking on behalf of the new restaurant, Councillor Dennis Moore acknowledged there will be issues in the area but said council is not there to stop business. He also feels council would not be having a similar debate if it were any other business opening in the area.
Councillor Rod Beatty also supported the application and said there are benefits to placing the restaurant in the mall parking lot.
“To have that parking lot redone is great and I think it will provide more traffic to the shopping mall which they need,” he said.
As part of the application’s approval, the owner must have the property landscaped before they are allowed to move in and would also be responsible for the costs of any design changes should exiting and entering the location become a problem. A road between the mall and the Canadian Tire store must also be constructed.