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.)
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
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.
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.