Sackville’s ban on new drive-thrus frustrates businessman while both mayoralty candidates agree, it’s time for a re-think

Pierre Barthe

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.

20-year ban

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.

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12 Responses to Sackville’s ban on new drive-thrus frustrates businessman while both mayoralty candidates agree, it’s time for a re-think

  1. Percy Best says:

    So Town Councillors, will one of you PLEASE make the motion at the next regular TC meeting on April 12th to give FIRST and SECOND reading to amending the By-Law that restricts Drive-Thrus in our Highway Commercial Zones and then, if approved, THIRD reading can follow on May 10th and then maybe we can finally start to put our community back on track to actually welcome businesses!! Thanks in advance!!

  2. Christian Corbet says:

    We need a strong, capable-minded town council looking forward who can understand business development and true economic growth for the town for without it, real-estate property values will wane and people’s investments grow at the lowest possible rate. No one will live here just for that reason alone.

  3. Cheryl Ward says:

    Cars are now designed to shut off when idle to help eliminate the emission issue. I know…not everybody has a newer vehicle, but it’s where the future of cars is going. PLEASE make necessary changes to reverse. We need Sackville to grow, not remain stagnant.

  4. Sharon Hicks says:

    This is not the first time Sackville has lost out on a potentially profitable business venture because of that 20 year old bylaw.

    Since 2016 there have been at least several inquiries (that we know of) about purchasing land for development out at Exit 506, on Cattail Ridge. Each time the potential investors took their businesses elsewhere, when they discovered they would not be able to incorporate a drive-through into their business model.

    When that portion of the zoning bylaw was enacted in 2001, it was intended as a TEMPORARY measure, to allow time to ‘study the situation’ – it was never meant to be a permanent ban, according to individuals who were involved in the process at that time.

    And, sadly, until such time as someone has the ‘intestinal fortitude’ to take the bull by the horns and rectify this situation, it will not be the last time that we lose out on an opportunity to have a successful business set up here in town.

    Many of us (citizens) have been lobbying the powers-that-be since 2016, to preemptively update that sadly archaic bylaw and allow drive-throughs in Highway-Commercial zones, AS LONG AS the applicants are able to meet a list of specifi requirements to properly install a drive-through.

    In 2016, regional planner Lori Bickford included a suggested list of specific requirements in the bylaw draft which she presented to Council, which indicated she was in favour of making such a change. At that time, she emphasized that her suggested list was just a ‘starting point’, and Council would be able to tailor the requirement list as they saw fit.

    However, Council instead threw out the whole proposal, and voted to maintain the 2001 ban on drive-throughs.

    Any questions from citizens on that subject since that time have been met with replies such as ‘if someone comes to us with a new proposal, then we will look at it again’.

    That doesn’t appear to be what happened with this latest request from yet another reputable business – Dairy Queen in this case. Word on the street has it that their application was just flatly refused.

    Enough is enough. We need decision-makers to actually ‘lead’ our town into the future, and take the necessary steps to promote business development, rather than thwart it.

    How many more businesses will we have to turn away before our Town Council finally sees the light and takes steps to change this sadly outdated ban ??

  5. S.A. Cunliffe says:

    I would friggin’ love to see a Dairy Queen in our sweet little town on the marshlands… imagine grabbing an icecream treat.. a float a smoothie a fudgie choco icecream and then strolling thru the waterfowl park with your date at that time in the evening when its smells and sights are so alluring and earthy… I could see a lot of romances taking place thanks to the DQ date.. our students and young folks would have a place to meet up with their friends on the patio… I can totally see this business here.

  6. Gordon Heffler says:

    Firstly Sackville…stop trying to save the planet by preventing folks, local and itinerant, from waiting a few minutes in a drive thru line. The planet is quite big compared to your drive thru’s! ALSO did anybody notice that most of us are trying to stay sane and simultaneously survive in a world pandemic! What that means, to bring you into focus, is…that people are using drive thru food and beverage facilities like never before in any of our lives…young and old. Why? Because they feel relief to “get out of the house” while at the same time staying virus safe by using the drive thu and consuming in their vehicles. So what part of this picture does this 19th century Town Council not get? This pandemic virus is going to be with us a while and will even outlast a few of us so why penalize both locals and travelers alike by preventing them from participating good virus avoidance by driving thru a drive thru, This is a 21st century virus and it needs 21st century consideration by a council with 21st century thinking!

  7. Colin Burke says:

    Considering in the Covid world we now live in many restaurants where only able to operate because they had a drive thru should make the town reconsider this bylaw!

  8. Roger Gouchie says:

    A blanket policy and not being able to look at each proposal is not logical. That location is one in which a drive-thru would be very compatible with traffic flow. It is not on a busy corner to create hazards with traffic backups. I feel the ban should be modified to at least be able to study the pros and cons of a situation like this one and make an open, logical, well thought out decision to improve the town or prevent problems from being created.

  9. Susan Walton says:

    There is loads of space at pizza delight for a drive-thru compared to the mess up the street at Tim Horton’s. That is an accident waiting to happen in my opinion.

  10. Kathy Richard says:

    Sackville get with the program. No jobs, people are moving out. Retirees moving in. Keep the economy moving. Like was said in another comment, covid was limiting folks to drive thru operations. Thankfully those businesses were spared from closing their doors.

  11. Norman Cole says:

    I think everyone should be considered on a individual bases ,you take away parking spaces leaveing people to circle around town 2 or 3 times trying to find a spot in town to support a small business in town or send them to another town then you talk climate change and environment .I find it strange you try to support local business but discourage places that have enough space to do business claiming it could damage the environment.Every parking space you take away creates more carbon,i realize beer taxes are important and Carbon Tax also a big money maker but so are customers and citizens of Sackville but i have been told lots of parking on Lorne Street

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