City council has approved a development permit for a 12-pump Petro-Canada gas bar combined with a 7-11 convenience store kitty corner to Tim Hortons on the northeast corner of Kalum St. and Keith Ave./Hwy16.
But council still wants clarification about whether the city will be on the hook for traffic light upgrades that may be required at the intersection.
The permit, sought by the company EXP Services, contains a provision to reduce the landscape buffer adjacent to the sidewalk running parallel to Keith Ave./Hwy16.
The 12-pump gas bar is to spread over three islands, council heard. The developer wants to reduce the front landscape buffer from 2.5 metres to 0.5 metres, and also received a variance so they won’t have to include a loading area.
Councillor Stacey Tyers asked if this means future upgrades, for instance putting a bike path along the edge, would be hindered by businesses jutting so close to Keith Ave./Hwy16, but staffers said that since the buffer is private property, it wouldn’t be part of a new lane regardless.
What also concerned council was the possible cost to the city of adjusting traffic signals at the intersection.
Councillor Brian Downie worried the city might end up paying for the installation of new left turn signals if the intersection became unmanageable and such an addition to the existing lights was necessary.
The city had asked the provincial transportation ministry to help figure out how to proceed with the application.
The ministry ended up asking EXP to do a Traffic Flow Analysis which is still underway, and which must be submitted as a condition for the final permitting of the site.
The intersection with Kalum is the most accident-prone in town now, and council wondered if there would be even more of an issue with more development there.
“We recognize it’s a challenging site, as does the Ministry of Transportation,” said city planner Tara Irwin.
But she said the ministry and the company spent some time studying the intersection and decided it was doable, though the government said it still has worries about long vehicles entering and exiting.
Traffic congestion has been a problem at Tim Hortons which is currently reconfiguring its drive-thru and entry in conjunction with its soon-to-be new neighbour, Great Canadian Oil Change.
“It’s sort of unfortunate that you’re solving the congestion problem, and before that project’s even fixed, you’re piling it back on,” said councillor James Cordeiro.
“This is a good problem,” councillor Sean Bujtas suggested, after years of hoping that businesses would come to town. “We have to worry about traffic.”
And Tyers said Petro-Canada should promise it won’t leave another brownfield site behind for the city to clean up.
“The idea of approving a future possible brownfield is not that exciting for me,” she said.
Edit Note: This article was revised for accuracy–the MOT asked the company to perform the traffic analysis. And the landscape buffer is part of the owner’s property.