A Lake Country council member says the district is sending mixed messages, asking people to get out of their cars and walk or ride bikes at the same time it has approved another drive-thru restaurant, keeping people in their vehicles.
Lisa Cameron was reacting to a council vote in favour of a proposed drive-thru Dairy Queen for the corner of Berry Road and Highway 97 in Lake Country at its most recent council meeting.
Council passed a rezoning application that would allow for the restaurant to be built with a drive-thru with Cameron being the lone member to vote against the rezoning.
“When I ask myself what this community needs, my first answer is not another drive-thru,” said Cameron. “I’m really happy there is another business coming to Lake Country and I support the Dairy Queen. What I’m not for is another drive-thru. All we’re saying with another drive-thru is drive through Lake Country. I want to say welcome to Lake Country. Stop and stay awhile.”
The Dairy Queen proposal will be forwarded to Ministry of Transportation due to its proximity to Highway 97. A separate proposal at the north end of Lake Country includes as many as three different drive-thru options.
Cameron says while Lake Country is in need of new business and new commercial tax payers, she’s hopeful the community doesn’t go the same route as its neighbors and become just a stretch of drive-thru restaurants that don’t do anything to keep tourists in Lake Country, spending more money in the community.
And she’s worried council has now set a precedent with the approval of the drive-thrus.
“We have the ability to go a different route,” she said. “It’s local governments job to help local business and we are not helping when we have a drive-thru. This is going to be the first of many developments that are going to come before council. How do we say yes to one and no to another.”
Cameron believes the traffic flowing through Lake Country represents a stream of revenue but she says the district needs to find ways to make those people stop and explore Lake Country and its unique businesses, rather than staying in their vehicle before continuing through the district.
The development is located in Lake Country’s Town Centre, an area the district has been hoping to see increased commercial development. In Lake Country’s Official Community Plan, commercial development is directed to the Town Centre but the Town Centre does not permit drive-thru restaurants, forcing the rezoning application.
At a public hearing on the rezoning, the majority of people spoke in favour of the proposal citing investment, new jobs and the ability for people to spend money in the community. Negative comments focussed on the impact of drive-thrus with car idling and community activity levels.
Cameron pointed to the irony of approving drive-thrus at the same time the district is moving forward with its Transportation for Tomorrow plan with a heavy focus on getting people out of their cars.