March 11, 2015 - 7:27 PM
VERNON - A group of Vernon parents fear a new drive-through Tim Hortons and gas bar will worsen traffic around an adjacent elementary school, but the city claims the opposite.
City planner Dale Rintoul says the developer has agreed to provide $80,000 for intersection upgrades at 35 Avenue and 27 Street, where both Beairsto Elementary and the proposed site of construction are located.
“Now with full lights at the intersection, kids will be able to walk on cross-walks when the light is green. There is going to be some increased safety as a result (of the upgrades),” Rintoul says.
The agreement was made after getting the results of a transportation impact assessment study into the proposed development, Rintoul says. A conditional development permit has been issued pending receipt of the $80,000. The developer also has an application in for a building permit.
Beairsto parents brought their concerns to a city council meeting Monday, insisting the project will only add to traffic challenges in around the school.
“The new Tim Hortons and CO-OP Gas Bar will only increase traffic and Beairsto’s main pedestrian and traffic access points on 35 Avenue and 27 Street,” chairperson Darlene Wood said in a letter to council. “The City of Vernon needs to take action to reduce the risk to our children.”
The parent advisory committee made 11 recommendations, including reducing the speed limit on 27 Street to 30 km/h, widening the sidewalk on 27 Street, and improving street parking. Rintoul says some of those recommendations are already underway, and others are on the city’s to do list, awaiting funding.
Drive-throughs are, in general, not part of the vision for downtown Vernon. The official City Centre Neighbourhood Plan actually prohibits them — but the zoning on the development site (service commercial) predates the neighbourhood plan. Council would have to rezone the land saying it can’t be used for a drive-through in order to turn down the proposal.
“As long as it complies with the bylaws, that’s as much power as we have,” acting mayor Catherine Lord says. “I know it (27 Street) is busy. I do sympathize with the parents…. We’re just as concerned about the kids as they are.”
Attempts to contact the local Tim Hortons franchise owner were not successful. The city is expected to respond to the Beairsto parents’ concerns at its next council meeting.
A new drive-through Tim Hortons and CO-OP Gas Bar are being proposed across from Beairsto School on 35 Avenue.
(CHARLOTTE HELSTON /InfoTel Multimedia)
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