Thanks to the 30 residents who were able to attend and those who spoke at the Sept. 10 Community Development Committee on the request to rezone half of the former Blockbuster building at 601 Brant St (No Frills Plaza) to allow a fast food restaurant, specifically a Tim Hortons/Cold Stone Creamery.
Thanks also to the more than 100 people who’ve communicated your feedback via email, phone or Facebook. Public sentiment is almost evenly divided, with slightly more people opposed to the rezoning. 54 are in support; 67 not in support; and 3 raised concerns but didn’t say either way.
A summary of some of the questions and comments I’ve received to date is below:
What is being proposed here?
Tim Hortons has proposed to lease the west half of the old Blockbuster building in the No Frills plaza on Brant Street for a coffee shop and Cold Stone Creamery ice cream outlet. The restaurant would have a 50-52 seat capacity with a 16 seat patio outside, facing Brant St.
Are take out stores allowed here?
Yes, a convenience food store – like the sub shop currently in the No Frills plaza – is allowed here, so long as it is no more than 100sq metres in size. Fast food outlets in our zoning are defined by size, not food offerings: smaller take-out or “convenience” restaurants (like the pizza shop in the same plaza) are permitted here with no rezoning. So a Tim Hortons that is 100sq metres would be allowed, as would other take out shops, without a rezoning. The rezoning is required because Tim Hortons is requesting 557 sq meters for their combined Tim Hortons/Cold Stone Creamery ice cream, thus the need for a rezoning to accommodate that size.
Will there be a drive through?
No. A drive-through is not being requested and is not permitted downtown. Previous requests over the years for downtown drivethroughs have been denied, and in any event would require a separate planning application. That is not in the works and would not be supported.
Will it be open 24 hours?
No. I’ve shared with Tim Hortons the concerns around the site being a magnet for patrons leaving bars in the early morning hours, and requested they not remain open 24 hours. Tim Hortons has said they will voluntarily agree to a 1am close, and I’ve asked that they close at midnight. The city can also impose closing hours on the business license.
What will this location look like?
A representative for Tim Hortons was present at the CDC meeting, and shared that Tim Hortons is trying to branch into more urban areas, and offer a different kind of restaurant experience that would encourage walk-in-and-stay patrons. This store is planned to have a fire place, comfortable couches and a full service menu (unlike the location at Lakeshore Rd which contains a partial menu and no seating). Tim Hortons is respectful of the request from the Burlington Downtown Business Association to create an unobtrusive facade that won’t eclipse the Downtown Burlington sign at the corner of Brant/Victoria. The awnings and exterior signage will aim to project a village character (see proposed elevations). These efforts of behalf of the applicant to be sensitive to the character of the existing neighbourhood are welcome and appreciated.
What else could go here?
The area allows a variety of retail/commercial uses, up to a four storey maximum. The range of currently permitted uses that would not require a rezoning include:
• A smaller Tim Hortons or other convenience restaurant with no drivethrough (less than100sqm)
• A standard restaurant or bar
• Terrace patio
• A four story mixed use building, of office, retail and/or residential.
Is parking required?
The area is within the downtown parking exemption boundary. Businesses within this boundary do not need to provide onsite parking; instead they pay into a levy, based on their property values, that will be used to build a future parking structure. The levy applies equally to businesses that already have onsite parking, and those that don’t. However, this particular location has some site specific parking requirements. Planning staff are reviewing those to determine how they impact the Tim Hortons application, and will include an analysis in their final report to council.
What about healthy menus and other matters?
Some of the concerns residents have raised focus on matters outside the scope of zoning issues, for example, concern about menus and healthy eating, smoking on the patio, litter, preference for independent operators, protecting other downtown coffee shops from increased competition, desire for a family restaurant, and so forth. These items are important to discuss, but are outside the scope of a zoning review, so the city cannot deny a zoning request on these grounds. There are other avenues, through city bylaws or regional and provincial governments, for addressing these types of concerns.
What is the traffic impact?
The primary concern raised by residents centers on the potential conflicts between vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic: hundreds of children walking through the intersection bordered by Tim Hortons to the three schools in the area, combined with almost 200 more auto trips in and out of Tim Hortons in the morning peak time, in a hurry, distracted while drinking coffee. Residents have shared that the No Frills plaza is already very busy with vehicles.
Tim Hortons has provided some preliminary traffic figures and a full traffic report is available here.(http://cms.burlington.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=22546)
There have been some updates to those numbers. City staff are reviewing the traffic reports and will include their own analysis in their report to City Council in October or November.
The city’s existing traffic data is that the intersection is functioning well and can absorb the extra capacity that will be generated by Tim Horton’s.
Brant/Victoria intersection can accommodate traffic
Staff recently reviewed flow through and turning movements at the Brant and Victoria intersection. The turning movements are given a letter grade from “a” to “f” representing time delay at the intersection, with “a” representing a delay of no more than 10 seconds, and “f” representing a delay of more than 80 seconds.
The morning and afternoon peak periods received an overall rating of “b” – or reasonably free flow (delay between 10-20 seconds). The evening peak period received an overall rating of “a” – or free flow.
The longest movements were in the east bound left turn receiving a ‘d” (delay 35-55 seconds) – for morning, afternoon and evening peak periods. The west bound left turn lane received a “d” for the afternoon period. All other flow through and turning movements at the intersection during the morning, afternoon and evening peak periods received “a”, “b” or “c” (stable flow, 20-35 second delay).
Email my assistant for the complete chart at firstname.lastname@example.org
What is being done about current traffic concerns?
Residents have raised concerns about existing traffic on surrounding streets, so I asked staff to review several area streets, including Courtland, Victoria, Woodland and Wellington. They found that existing daily traffic volumes and speeds are within the acceptable threshold. The median speeds (average speeds) are well below the speed limits on these roadways and the 85th percentile speeds are right around the existing speed limit. Volumes are also well below capacity levels. (See data below, or email my assistant Georgie at email@example.com for the complete chart).
Based on their analysis, staff have concluded these roadways are not a concern from an existing volume or speeding perspective. If residents have concerns regarding speeding or aggressive driving on any of our roads, staff recommend using the Road Watch Program (details here.
Road Segment: Courtland Dr Between Emerald St and Gary St
Existing 24hr Daily Volume: 1518
Median Speeds (km/h): 43
85th Percentile Speed*: 53
Road Segment: Victoria Ave Between Wellington Ave and Emerald St
Existing 24hr Daily Volume: 1310
Median Speeds [km/h]: 42
85th Percentile Speed*: 52
Road segment: Woodland Ave Between Wellington Ave and Waterloo St
Existing 24hr Daily Volume: 739
Median Speeds (km/h): 33
85th Percentile Speed*: 45
Road segment: Wellington Ave Between Emerald St and Bellwood Ave
Existing 24hr Daily Volume: 855
Median Speeds (km/h): 29
85th Percentile Speed*: 45
- 85th percentile speed is the speed at which 85% of traffic is travelling at or below.
- all roads above have a posted 50km speed limit
- all roads are classified as “local” which can have an upper limit of 3000 vehicles a day.
If you have any questions about the traffic study, please contact Chris Day, Supervisor of Traffic Services, (905) 335-7600 ext.7401, firstname.lastname@example.org
Next Steps: City planning staff will be conducting additional research on the history of zoning on the property, parking requirements (if any), trip generation by car, and other matters. They will then prepare a report with a recommendation to either approve, deny or approve with conditions the rezoning request. That is expected some time in October or November.
Your Take: Do you share the traffic and safety concerns about a Tim Hortons at this corner? Are you satisfied that the Tim Hortons would be a welcome addition to the downtown? What are your thoughts about the proposed interior and exterior design of the restaurant? Please comment below or email me at email@example.com.
My Take: I am open to welcoming Tim Hortons/Cold Stone Creamery to the downtown, but am cognizant of the pedestrian safety concerns raised by residents. I have asked Tim Hortons to provide me with information on whether they have a franchise anywhere else in the city, region, province or country that is located on a 2-lane street, intersecting another two-lane residential street, at the intersection of a major school crossing. Tim Hortons franchises in Burlington are located on four- five- or six-lane roads. I don’t know of any that are located on a 2-lane intersection at a school crossing. But, if there is such franchise it would be of comfort to residents to know the experience around safety there.