Hwy. 7 and 11 development given go-ahead

Adding two more drive-thrus to Mission is a “quick and dirty way of earning money,” said one resident Monday night at a public hearing on a proposed shopping centre at Cedar Valley Connector and Lougheed Highway.

But council voted 5-2 to approve the development, which will include a 16-stack drive-thru Tim Hortons and a 10-stack drive-thru Burger King, despite an Official Community Plan (OCP) bylaw that prohibits them.

The additional drive-thrus brings the community total to eight.

Couns. Heather Stewart and Danny Plecas represented the no vote, with Stewart lamenting the decision by her colleagues.

“I had hoped that we would lead on this,” she said.

The decision wasn’t made lightly, however, as council listened to a dozen concerned residents at the public hearing that lasted nearly three hours.

Coun. Paul Horn took exception to the “quick and dirty” characterization, saying the developer has made “every possible effort” to accommodate the community.

But resident Pam Willis pointed out council had already decided it didn’t want drive-thrus in the district when it created the bylaw in 2008.

“I’m baffled that council would even be considering this,” she said.

A 794-signature petition against drive-thrus was delivered to council in May, although a 247-signature petition was presented in favour Monday night.

Most of the speakers noted they were in favour of the development, with opposition stemming only from the drive-thrus.

“I think fast food restaurants and drive-thrus are a thing of the past,” said Roger Dowker.

Despite objections, council felt it was appropriate to green light the application, given they had already approved it when the developer first applied in December 2007. But due to complications with Fisheries and Oceans Canada about work around Windebank Creek, a development permit wasn’t issued at that time. That matter was resolved in court last year.

But shortly after that, the contentious drive-thru issue led to the OCP change.

The developer was forced to reapply, which many councillors said meant the application pre-dates the bylaw.

“You don’t pull the rug out on people mid-stream,” said Coun. Mike Scudder.

Horn agreed, saying the development would likely fall through without the anchor tenants receiving drive-thrus. He added that drive-thrus in that area aren’t unreasonable either, given that the zoning is commercial-highway, and similar in character to other developments along Lougheed.

Coun. Jenny Stevens admitted to reservations about the drive-thrus, but said “on balance” the development would be good for the district.

“If we don’t bend a bit on this one, we’ll keep the eyesore we’ve got, and lose the jobs that would have been created,” she said.

Mayor James Atebe acknowledged the drive-thrus are controversial, but said there has to be a balance between environmental, cultural, social and economic factors.

The developer applicant, Harvey Weiss, said numerous concessions have been made since the first application, including reducing the size of the buildings, adding landscaping, artwork and improving pedestrian access.

Although pedestrian-friendly developments are a stated priority for council, the developer’s architect, Eric Ching, said the site is vehicle-oriented by virtue of its location.

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 will donate to a conservancy group.

The main centre will feature five buildings with retail stores, including a Tim Hortons, Burger King and an oil change business.

Construction is expected to be completed in a single phase, opening in the summer of 2012.