Businessman Pierre Barthe says Sackville’s ban on more coffee drive-thrus is threatening the sale of the vacant Pizza Delight building he owns on Mallard Drive.
“I’m very frustrated,” Barthe said today in a telephone interview.
“I’m a common sense kind of guy and I can’t see any common sense in the bylaw banning drive-thrus.”
He says a Dairy Queen franchisee wants to buy his 3,500 sq. ft. building which is listed at $649,000, but the sale depends on getting approval for another drive-thru in the town’s highway commercial zone.
He adds that there’s ample room in the parking lot and that vehicles using the drive-thru wouldn’t need to line up on Mallard Drive the way they do now for the Tim Hortons coffee window.
Instead of a blanket ban on more drive-thrus, Barthe argues that applications should be judged on a case-by-case basis.
Town council passed the bylaw banning more drive-thrus in 2001.
In 2016, it turned down an application from Wendy and Kelly Alder for a Robin’s Donuts drive-thru at the Ultramar gas station near Exit 506.
At the time, a majority of councillors expressed concerns about added traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions from idling engines.
“Sackville’s a beautiful little town beside the highway and people stop here for coffee and gas, then go on their merry way,” Barthe says.
“Don’t you think the public in Sackville would be happy to get a Dairy Queen here?”
Barthe himself operated the Pizza Delight for three years before selling the franchise in 2017. But he kept the building, renting it to Pizza Delight franchisees.
He says the latest owner went bankrupt and closed the restaurant in April after the COVID-19 pandemic drove business away.
Mayoralty candidates agree on drive-thru issue
Both candidates for mayor in the May municipal elections agree that the town needs to re-think its ban on new drive-thrus.
Acting Mayor Ron Aiken, who was not present at the meeting in 2016 that rejected the Alders’ application, says it makes sense to judge each application on a case-by-case basis.
“I’m not as ardently against drive-thrus as lots of my colleagues are,” he adds, referring to the argument that idling engines contribute to climate change.
“Electric is going to be the thing of the future and lots of newer cars, when you stop, they actually shut off,” Aiken adds.
“I see it as a fairly minor source of pollution and GHGs [green-house gas emissions] given everything else that’s going on.”
Last October, Councillor Shawn Mesheau, who is also running for mayor, moved a motion calling for a reconsideration of the ban on new drive-thrus when the town’s municipal plan comes up for review later this year.
He said that by supporting a review of the ban, council would be sending a signal that the town is open for business.
And when he launched his mayoralty campaign last month, Mesheau said that if the highway commercial zones are built to attract business off the highway, it makes sense to consider the needs of those travellers.
“I think there can be a compromise. I think there can be collaboration in making it work right,” he concluded.