Council’s got time for Tim Hortons

New store is expected to be built on the empty lot next to Woofy’s Pet Foods along the South Island Highway

Council approved plans for a new Tim Hortons Tuesday night despite concerns from one councillor that noise from the drive-through may disturb nearby residents.

The store is expected to be built on the empty lot next to Woofy’s Pet Foods along the South Island Highway in Willow Point. A few homes along Dalton Road line the back of the proposed Tim Hortons site and city staff are concerned the 24-hour drive through could become a problem.

“Most of those houses have bedrooms that face that site and if one can imagine a 24-hour scenario where there is background noise,” said Ross Blackwell, the city’s land use manager, at Tuesday’s council meeting. “It could reach a proportion over time that could become irritating to residents.”

However, staff are unsure of the actual impact.

“That may be the case, it may not be the case, but I think from staff’s perspective the interface issue is significant enough that we view a minor piece of research be undertaken,” Blackwell said.

Alex Taylor, agent for Tim Hortons and Tim Hortons co-owner Dave Paquin disagreed that a sound attenuation report was necessary. Taylor said the sound coming from the speaker would be at roughly 54 decibels, a reasonable level according to Health Link BC.

“It’s about the same decibel level as a normal conversation or background music,” Taylor said.

Paquin noted that Tim Hortons has changed its drive-through speakers from an analog to a digital system which requires less volume for the customer to hear the order taker. He also pointed out that the speaker is aimed away from the residences and that inside the store the volume of the speaker can be manipulated manually.

“We can adjust the mic volume was well as the speaker volume internally if we did have any issues,” said Paquin who noted there is a day and a night time volume. “But it is true that Tim Hortons has done an awful lot of these and there’s locations where there’s residences and parks way closer to the drive-thrus than this is, so we don’t anticipate any problems at all with the distance we have.”

Still, Coun. Claire Moglove said she didn’t want to see council end up in a situation similar to the pole peeler debacle two years ago. In that case, the pole peeling operation set up shop close to residential homes in the Gordon Road area and the noise from the peeler prompted several complaints and protests at city hall.

“I think council has had some experience with the issue of noise,” Moglove said. “And of course I’m talking about the pole peeling plant. I want to be sure that noise isn’t a problem, and I appreciate the comments made by the applicant, but as a councillor I need to make sure that the residents who are in that area, whose bedrooms or living rooms are facing that building, I need to be more sure.”

Coun. Andy Adams said he was confident a Tim Hortons civil report on noise levels from the drive-through speaker addressed the noise issue and that if not, staff and Tim Hortons could work together to resolve any remaining issues.

Coun. Larry Samson suggested the city needs to do less nit-picking when it comes to new developments.

“I find that when we start asking for these little things because we’re trying to be so careful and crossing the t’s and dotting all the i’s, it can be daunting for the developer,” Samson said. “I think Tim Hortons is not re-inventing anything here and they’ve had stores across Canada back on to residential and commercial (properties).”

In the end, council approved the development permit for Tim Hortons which is expected to face the street, with a patio area out front and rear parking.