For the Berkey’s Corner development proposal, either we agree to the drive-thru or the developer walks. Now it’s over to you for a say.
North Cowichan council has been dealing with a development proposal for the Berkey’s Corner area (for background, read this article in the Cowichan Valley Citizen.)
Basically, at our January 22 meeting, I brought forward a motion to exclude drive-thrus from the development. Council voted (4 yays; 3 nays) in favour of that motion. Drive-thrus were out…until today.
The mayor brought that decision back for reconsideration at today’s council meeting as two councillors said they were not clear on what they were voting for at the time. Council voted (5 yays; 2 nays) in favour of drive-thrus being allowed.
Drive-thrus are back in.
Let’s set things straight: I don’t hate drive-thrus. That people assume I hate drive-thrus is a reflection of society’s mixed reviews on these types of establishments. If I said I didn’t want a swimming pool at that location, people wouldn’t assume I don’t like swimming pools. Lots of people hate drive-thrus; I’m not one of them.
The reason I object to the drive-thru in this location is I don’t believe it fits in a residential neighbourhood. The rationale for this development is its walkability—that people who live nearby will be able to leave their cars at home, or drive a shorter distance, or ride their bikes to it via the Trans-Canada Trail when they run out of milk or want to meet a neighbour for lunch. The argument that we must cater to our auto-centric society (by providing a drive-thru) contradicts this rationale and—for me, at least—the volume of traffic that drive-thrus attract doesn’t jive with life in a neighbourhood.
The people in that neighbourhood can access food, gas, and drive-thru coffee or burger 2.5 km to the north and 2.5 km to the south of Berkey’s corner. This development isn’t a need. The community could hold out for a development that turns this place into a destination, which includes a restaurant where a couple can share a romantic meal without having to worry about who drives home, or youth organizations raise money, or cyclists on the Trans-Canada Trail stop to quench their thirst on an outdoor patio. The opportunity to define a neighbourhood space like this doesn’t come along all that often.
However, development applications don’t come along everyday either (North Cowichan waited many, many years for the Chemainus neighbourhood commercial development to be built). The developer stated at today’s council meeting if the drive-thru isn’t permitted, they won’t proceed with the Berkey’s Corner development. Much as it’s not cool to be held to ransom in this way, consider that the tax revenue from this development could be as high as $200,000. That’s the equivalent of over 130 homes paying property tax. We could do great things in this community with that money.
Now it’s over to you. The next step in this process is a public hearing, which council voted in favour of being held at Mount Prevost School (instead of council chambers) and in the evening. I believe some councillors voted in favour of allowing drive-thrus so we could hear from the public before killing the development entirely. We hope this time and location will encourage as many residents in that neighbourhood to share their views with us.
The developer said he will hold an information meeting as well. The dates for both of these events will be advertised in the Cowichan Valley Citizen. I will share them on Facebook as soon as I know.
What do you think? Email Council your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.