Tim’s new drive-thru OK, planner says; Town treasurer outlines plan for balanced budget

Tim Hortons temporary drive-thru

Sackville town planner Lori Bickford says the Tim Hortons mobile restaurant parked beside the former Wendy’s near TransCanada Exit 504 does not violate Sackville’s ban on new coffee and fast-food drive-thrus.

In an e-mail addressed to Wendy and Kelly Alder, owners of the Tantramar Gas Bar at Exit 506, Bickford writes that she visited the site on Thursday and noted that Tim Hortons is using the existing drive-thru entrance off Mallard Drive, but has routed the traffic around the former Wendy’s drive-thru lane.

“This still follows the general path of the former drive thru lanes and is not considered an additional drive thru on the property,” Bickford adds.

She was responding to e-mails from Wendy Alder raising questions about whether an additional drive-thru at Exit 504 violates the town’s zoning bylaw. (In 2016, town council rejected the Alders’ application for a Robin’s Donuts drive-thru at their gas bar and convenience store upholding the 15-year-old ban on any more drive-thrus in the highway commercial zone near the TransCanada.)

Month-long renovations

The Wendy’s restaurant and drive-thru closed in December 2014, a couple of weeks after Burger King merged with Tim Hortons. Now, it appears Burger King is getting ready to open its own drive-thru after renovations are completed at the Sackville Tim Hortons.

During a council meeting earlier this month, Bickford indicated Burger King would be allowed to operate a drive-thru as long as it adheres to the specifications in the town’s original development agreement with Tim Hortons/Wendy’s.

In her e-mail to the Alders, Bickford writes that the zoning bylaw allows the use of temporary structures during construction projects.

“The owners have obtained a permit to do the renovations on the building,” she adds. “I have confirmed with the contractors that the anticipated timing for the temporary structure is approximately one month, at which time it will be removed and they will be back in operation out of the main building.”

Bickford writes that since the mobile restaurant is on wheels and has been placed on the site for a short time during construction, staff feel it does not violate the zoning bylaw.

Treasurer presents balanced budget

Treasurer Michael Beal

At their meeting last Monday, Sackville councillors reviewed a draft of the 2019 budget that Treasurer Michael Beal says could be balanced without the need for another tax increase.

Last year, council raised the residential tax rate by one cent and the business rate by one-and-a-half cents. The increase to $1.56 per $100 of assessed value raised annual taxes on a home assessed at $100,000 by $10, while a business with a similar assessment paid $15 more.

Beal said provincial officials have indicated the total value of the town’s property assessments should rise by about two-and-a-quarter per cent and if that figure is confirmed, the town’s projected 2019 revenues of $10,989,740 would match next year’s expenses.

However, he said councillors will have to decide whether they want to keep taxes where they are, reduce them or increase them further.

To view the 2019 draft budget, click here.

Managing town assets

At last Monday’s meeting, councillors also heard a lengthy presentation from Gabe Metron, a regional director at PSD, a consulting firm that helps municipalities create comprehensive, long-term plans to manage, maintain and improve capital assets such as roads and sidewalks, sewer and storm water systems, municipal buildings and municipally-owned equipment.

The federal government is now requiring all Canadian municipalities to draft so-called Asset Management Plans if they want to continue receiving more than $2 billion in annual gas tax funds. (This year, Sackville’s share is almost $410,000.)

Metron, who is based in London, Ontario, showed councillors a long series of slides. One said that Sackville’s capital assets have been valued at a little over $152 million.

Bad roads?

Gabe Metron, PSD regional director

Metron showed a graph on the condition of town roads that he said “looks really bad.”

“You’ve got 48 per cent of your [road] assets that are in very poor condition,” he said, adding, however, that over half of road surfaces are in good condition.

Metron added that based on this preliminary information, the consultants recommend setting aside a total of $1.3 million every year to improve and maintain roads as part of the town’s asset management plan.

“So, that’s our target right now and right now, you see, we’re currently allocating $672,000,” he said, “leaving a deficit of $650,000.”

Metron suggested that asset management plans can help town officials manage assets like roads over many decades as they allocate money in annual budgets for near-term and longer-term projects.

Judging from Monday night’s presentation and earlier discussions, it appears that town staff and Sackville’s municipal politicians strongly support the further development of a comprehensive asset management plan.

To read previous coverage of Sackville’s initial efforts (and spending) on asset management, click here.

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8 Responses to Tim’s new drive-thru OK, planner says; Town treasurer outlines plan for balanced budget

  1. G says:

    A Wendy screwed again.

  2. Rima Azar says:

    Thank you for this article, Mr. Wark.

    This a joint a comment by Louis and Rima (to save space on the Warktimes :).

    As faithful clients of the Alders and as nearby residents, we remain speechless at the double standard, which exists under all the legal niceties. We hope the town will eventually reconsider their drive thru’s application.

    As for the Asset Management Plan related to the annual gas tax funds, even if this could be beneficial to Sackville (and despite any good intentions), it seems like another use of the federal taxation power to intrude into provincial jurisdiction.

  3. Percy Best says:

    Our Town management must finally get serious about maintaining what vital assets we have and STOP doing all the fun things. As noted by Metron, our road system is in deplorable condition and we have a long way to go to bring it up to snuff. Annually, Sackville is still spending more on patching potholes than the whole city of Fredericton spends because they wisely allot the funds needed to maintain or renew their streets and roads.

    Sackville lets the drainage ditches fill up and overgrow with weeds and alders within our extended boundaries, and as a result there are basements being flooded because the basement drains that go to the ditches are now clogged. The Public Works Department needs a comprehensive Preventative Maintenance Program for all basic assets from sidewalks to roadside tree trimming and road surfaces, and be required to follow it. But, it is Council that must free up enough funds in order to do so. This year alone there is almost $200,000 of budgeted funds left over from the Quarry project. And $3,000,000 of shared funds have been allocated to making drainage water much more restricted than it actually was before with the Lorne Street Phase II Project. Money that could have been spent working with DTI to actually dig a ditch to Carters Brook and install a new aboiteau. A project that would have a total cost of less than $500,000 and would have permanently solved our flooding problems. It is all about priorities. Here in our Sackville, ‘PRETTY’ seems to be top priority and simple solutions to simple problems don’t seem to make it to the ‘drawing board’.

    • Rima Azar says:

      Dear Percy:

      Thank you for this very informative detailed comment. I wish you were a candidate for the position of town Councillor to replace Mitton :). Ok, more seriously, your comment is a crying call call for action: Enough of this municipal trend of ridiculous overspending in Sackville!

      It is my hope that your comment will generate a debate (Q&R) for each of our five candidates on this critical issue: What can each of them do to assist in finding simple (to use your wise words), creative ideas to cut our town spending with little reduction in the quality of our municipal services?

      Another related question may be: Who, among our five candidates, has the political expertise to contribute into leading us out of the high risk zone of overspending and into a brighter future?

      I hope the voters will pay attention to down-to-earth ideas. A bubble of beauty and of idealistic noble ideas is cute but… at one point, when we will wake up from apathy mixed with our unrealistic idealism, reality can collectively hit us hard and… it can hurt when it does so.

      • Sharon Hicks says:

        Hi Rima …

        Your comments regarding the current ‘municipal trend’ are very astute.

        Your closing remarks about the ‘bubble of beauty and idealistic ideas’ certainly rings true when one considers the track record of the current Town management over the past few years.

        The all-candidates forum this coming Wednesday night, Nov 28, at the Civic Centre, would provide a great opportunity for you and Louis to attend and ask these tough questions. Percy and I will both be in attendance, and hopefully we will see you there.

        With five candidates in the running for one Council seat left vacant after Councillor Megan Mitton was elected to the Provincial legislature, there could be some interesting conversations arising from the forum, for both candidates and attendees.

        You asked which of the candidates has the political expertise to ‘lead us out of the high risk zone of overspending’ – we are confident we know which one has this ability, and that is why we are both supporting that person whole-heartedly in this brief campaign.

        On Dec 10, it’s time to elect someone to Council who isn’t afraid to listen to the people and ask the hard questions, in order to make critical decisions based on mandatory ‘needs’ rather than just discretionary ‘wants’.

  4. Rima Azar says:

    Dear Sharon:

    Thank you for your kind words in your comment about my comment to Percy’s comment :).

    I will do my UTMOST to attend the all-candidates forum. Thanks for letting me/us know about it.

    Count on me to keep your last words in my mind to motivate myself even more when I will go to vote, namely *On Dec 10, it’s time to elect someone to Council who isn’t afraid to listen to the people and ask the hard questions, in order to make critical decisions based on mandatory ‘needs’ rather than just discretionary ‘wants’*. Very well said!

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