This conceptual drawing shows plans for a new Dairy Queen proposed for the shopping plaza on the corner of Dogwood Street and 12th Avenue.

Dairy Queen signage causes concern

Official Community Plan guidelines don't allow for back-lit signs on Dogwood Street

Signs proposed for a new Dairy Queen on Dogwood Street caused a dilemma for city council Monday night.

Dairy Queen owner Jim Costain and building architect Thomas Moore presented their plans to council for a fancy new restaurant with a drive-thru, complete with rock elements, a large free standing sign and three logo signs on the sides of the restaurant.

Those signs, however, posed a problem for city staff in trying to follow the guidelines set out in the city’s Sustainable Official Community Plan (SOCP).

Kevin Brooks, the city’s development services supervisor, said the type of signs being proposed are not appropriate for Dogwood Street.

“The type of signage being proposed is highway signage – Dogwood is not a highway,” Brooks said. “The back lit signage is not consistent with the vision for this area.”

Brooks said the 7.5 metre pylon free-standing sign and the back-lit logo signage is designed for automobile-centred areas and does not reflect the urban character that the Official Community Plan envisions for the area where Dairy Queen is proposing to build.

The restaurant is slated to be built on the site of the former Save-On gas bar in the Home Hardware shopping plaza on the corner of Dogwood and 12th Avenue.

Plans for the new Dairy Queen include a parking and loading area, a patio area, landscaping, and a drive-thru – a key new piece.

Owner Costain said that drive-thrus typically make up 65 per cent of the traffic flow into the business. He noted that at his store in Nanaimo, the drive-thru accounts for 65 to 70 per cent of his business.

Council praised Dairy Queen for its expansion plans, and wanted to ensure that the development went through, despite a difference of opinion on the signs.

Costain said the back-lit signs are a Dairy Queen standard and are required of the new restaurant.

Mayor Andy Adams said he didn’t see a problem with it.

“When I go up and down Dogwood, the type of lighting being proposed is already in existence, whether in Discovery Harbour Shopping Centre or Mariner Square. All the way down to Merecroft it is prevalent,” he said.

But Brooks replied that those signs were put up before the new Sustainable Official Community Plan guidelines were adopted by council.

Adams said it didn’t make sense for the city to not exercise some flexibility when the local owner is being told the sign is a required national standard whereas the Official Community Plan sets out guidelines, or suggestions, but not requirements.

In the end, council approved the development permit to move the project forward, but on the condition that Costain and Moore work with city staff to come to some sort of a compromise.

Brooks said that when the new Tim Hortons was built in Willow Point, back-lit signs were  part of the original plan but staff were able to come up with a compromise that allowed one back-lit sign facing the highway while the others were spotlit.

Brooks said he’s hoping to be able to do something similar with Dairy Queen.

If a compromise can’t be found, the owner has the option of coming back to city council.