Pincher Creek town council has put the brakes on plans to include drive-thrus in its C4 transitional zoning designation.
In a vote of 6-1, with Coun. Sahra Nodge the lone dissenter, council defeated the second of three readings of an amendment that would have allowed businesses, like restaurants and financial institutions, to potentially have drive-thrus in the downtown core.
“The one thing, in my view, that makes it slightly incompatible, is you’re transitioning from residential to commercial and that whole area of transition has public sidewalks right in front of it,” said Coun. Wayne Oliver, referring to the Subway restaurant on Main Street, which had been hoping to open its existing drive-thru window.
“Having a drive-thru that has to cross (two) public sidewalks is not an ideal design,” he said. “And that’s a high-traffic area with a swimming pool and a skating rink.”
There was also concern across the board that an alleyway behind the restaurant might be impacted by a drive-thru lane.
While there’d been no direct dialogue with the owner of the Subway on the access route, the town’s CAO assured council that vehicles wouldn’t be able to line up in the alley.
“Private development isn’t able to use back alleys. Everything has to be done on their site,” confirmed Angie Lucas, when asked by Coun. David Green where the vehicles would enter the drive-thru.
Oliver, however, followed up on an earlier comment from Mayor Don Anderberg that any amendment changes need to be considered for all the businesses that might be affected, not just one.
New direction for future development?
While in favour of seeing the amendment go through second reading, Nodge also accepted there might be a shift in what the community wants from its downtown, which includes Kettles Street, where a number of lots fall under the “transitional” designation.
The zoning “was primarily along the Kettles Street piece. It’s more than just Main Street,” she said. “It was meant to facilitate more commercial development on Kettles and also on the west end of Main Street, west of the Hewetson intersection, on that block, on both sides.”
But have the wants and needs of the community changed?
“I don’t think where our community is moving now is foreseeing Kettles as a commercial core, as it once did, and I think there’s a shift in how the downtown is viewed in terms of growth possibility and the desirability,” Nodge added.
Anderberg, meanwhile, would like to see any future discussion on land use include the stretch of Main Street west of Hewetson.
“The (original) intent was to intensify that section for commercial development. It hasn’t worked too well,” he said.
Anderberg hopes an updated land use bylaw, with new provisions for C4, will address that.
“I think the plan (for the C4 district) was put in place … 1998, 1990, so it’s been 25 years. It’s out of date,” said the mayor.
The first draft of the new land use bylaw could come across the council table as early as next month.