Drive-thru exemption requested for Hwy. 7 and 11 development

An exemption to Mission’s drive-thru bylaw has been requested for a commercial development at the community’s busiest intersection, causing one councillor to outright reject the plan.

The rezoning application by Mission Western Developments for a shopping centre at the northeast corner of Lougheed Highway and Cedar Valley Connector includes a change to allow drive-thru restaurants.

If granted, it would not amend the bylaw to remove the drive-thru ban, rather it would allow council to give approval on a site-by-site basis.

Although council voted to send the proposal to a public hearing Aug. 22, Coun. Heather Stewart spoke at length before being the sole vote against.

“I’m not against development, but we have reached a point where we need to be choosy,” she said.

Stewart said it was unacceptable to the 794 citizens who signed an anti-drive-thru petition several months ago, culminating in the ban.

She added that drive-thrus are archaic, increase carbon emissions in the district, and go against the principles of pedestrian-friendly shopping.

Although other councillors voiced concerns, they said it was appropriate to go to public consultation before passing judgment.

“Council is open-minded until [the public] makes a decision,” said Coun. Terry Gidda.

The 1.37 ha (3.39 acres) commercial development will be separated from the environmentally sensitive 0.7 ha (1.73 acres) Windebank Creek to the east, which the developer intends to donate to a conservancy group.

It features five buildings, including a 16-car Tim Hortons drive-thru, and a 10-car drive-thru at Burger King. There will also be an oil change business.

Parking spots will total 127 with traffic-calming raised crosswalks for pedestrian access to all five buildings.

Coun. Jenny Stevens said an already busy intersection could be further congested from cars turning into the shopping centre.

Stewart said that part of the support for a Wal-Mart in Mission was based on the idea of youth who can bicycle or walk to work.

“This application is auto-centred, not pedestrian or bike-centred,” she said, adding it goes against the idea of the province’s Climate Action Charter, to which Mission is signatory, and its own environmental charter which calls for a 20 per cent reduction of 2008 greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions by 2020. A previous study found transportation is responsible for 60 per cent of the district’s GHG emissions.

Coun. Paul Horn warned the amendment would set a precedent that could allow future developments to come to council asking for an amendment to the Official Community Plan (OCP) allowing drive-thrus.

Mission Western Developments has been trying to get approval for the site since 2007. The first led to a drive-thru petition, and the second in 2010 led to the current drive-thru ban in the OCP.