Note – The following letters was submitted by Kris Nanda, RPCA Immediate Past President, and David Knockhaert , RPCA Board Member, an individuals and not  in their capacity as RPCA Board Members:

Good morning

Please accept these comments regarding the Consent Application submitted by 24277353 Ontario Inc. seeking approval extend a lease, in excess of 21 years, for TDL Group Inc., (“Tim Hortons”) which occupies a one-storey building located at 1583 Alta Vista. Drive.

While this Tim Horton’s is well-used by the community, I believe that there are a number of factors to address before the extension application is approved.  My concerns relate primarily to the drive-through feature of the store and the litter that this business generates.

To approve the current lease extension as is, would be to undermine City efforts to address the climate change emergency (by facilitating the cars to use the drive=through and the resultant idling and greenhouse gas emissions that could be prevented.  Shouldn’t the City be doing more to discourage drive-thru traffic rather than facilitating it?

Moreover, it allows a problematic traffic pattern to continue along Dorion Avenue — where idling cars etc. create traffic problems and frequent  near-misses with cyclists, pedestrians and other cars seeking to use Dorion for reasons other than going to the Tim Horton’s drive through.  As someone who passes along Dorion every day (on foot or by bike) on my morning commute, more often than not, I see at least one vehicle partially obstructing the sidewalk and/or Dorion, while waiting to enter the drive-through line.  (This is particularly hazardous in morning rush hour and even more so in winter when icy conditions on sidewalks often force pedestrians to use the road and when Dorion is narrowed due to snow banks ).

City officials have acknowledged that  the current drive through arrangement is non-conforming with City standards, and would not have been approved if the application were presented de novo  in 2019.   (Riley Carter from the City’s Transport Services Department has apparently confirmed earlier this year that the drive-through DOES NOT meet City guidelines.) Therefore, the non-conforming aspects should be addressed before the 21-year lease is approved.   At the least, I would urge City officials to come and do at least one in-person site inspection during morning rush hours  (7-9 AM) to see for themselves (as it is summer and many people are on holiday, the full extent of the problem will likely not be visible until September after the summer vacation period is over)n 

The recent project to repave the entire parking lot for the strip mall (including the Tim Horton’s drive-through and parking) would have been an ideal time for this issue to be addressed.  However, there was no advance notice to the community of the repaving – which was extensive as it involved digging up and regarding the lot itself over a period of several weeks.  There was not any opportunity to provide feedback.  While admittedly the parking lot is private property, a project of this magnitude should have required advance notice to the local community and the local Councillor. 

Insufficient notice is an issue regarding this mall since the only notice for the Community was the posting of a sign — given the existing non-conforming use i.e. the drive-through, and the length of the extension requested (21 years) more notice and opportunities for comment should have been provided.

Finally, a significant amount of the litter & waste on neighouring streets and parks come from illegally littering or packaging from clients of that particular Tim Hortons location.  Yet beyond the Annual Cleaning the Capital campaign, Tim Horton’s and this particular outlet do not provide any ongoing support (financial or labour) to address clean-up and disposal of its the waste generated by its clientele.

Given numerous reports and sightings of a recent rat influx in the neighbourhood, addressing food waste from Tim Horton’s which attracts rats-  is all the more imperative. I realize that this does not directly relate to the drive-through issue, but having a more robust commitment from Tim Horton’s to address the litter situation (beyond its physical boundaries) should be a component of any arrangement to extend the lease for an additional 21 years. 

In conclusion, while the Tim Horton’s is well used and convenient for its patrons (including many local residents), there are aspects of its present operations (particularly the drive-through) that need to be addressed before a lease extension is approved.  Otherwise, local residents and taxpayers will continue to have to bear the burden of giving up part of a public street and sidewalk, accepting what we understand is a non-conforming drive-through,  being confronted with higher traffic levels and safety risks (to pedestrians, cyclists and motorists), and having to pick up litter ourselves. 

Thank you for taking these comments into consideration as you deliberate on the decision to extend this lease.

Sincerely

Kris Nanda

I am writing in regards the Consent Application submitted by 24277353 Ontario Inc. seeking approval extend a lease, in excess of 21 years, for TDL Group Inc., (“Tim Hortons”) which occupies a one-storey building located at 1583 Alta Vista. Drive.

I request their application be denied or at least that a decision on the application be delayed. The justification for my request is as follows:

1) Insufficient Notice:  I learned of this application on the 23rd of July when a resident living in the adjacent apartment block reported seeing a notice sign posted on the Plaza site.  The posting of the sign offered residents of Riverview Park only 10 days to consider the matter and formulate a response in order to meet your published timelines.

2) Non-Conforming Drive-Through:  The application seeks a lease extension for the existing “Tim Hortons” Restaurant, drive through and associated parking.  I question whether the drive-through conforms to City of Ottawa guidelines.  Certainly, during the morning rush hour, especially outside of summer, the principle staging line commonly stretches back to the Alta Vista Drive intersection, which itself is a non-conforming element. On the 28th July I wrote to the City of Ottawa Planning Department asking whether the drive-through is conforming, in which respects it may be non-conforming, and whether a lease extension would allow the Owners to maintain a non-conforming drive-through for the duration of an extended lease term. The Planning Department has yet to respond. However, Riley Carter, of the City of Ottawa Transport Services Department had previously confirmed the drive-through does not/not meet guidelines. Until the Planning Department can officially answer the questions posed, no decision on the Consent Application should be made. Should it be confirmed the drive-through is non-conforming, the lease extension should not be approved until the Owners have taken the necessary steps to meet City guidelines.

3) Staging creates congestion and a road hazard: The staging area used by TDL and Owners for the drive-through is located on the south side of Dorion Avenue, a residential street.  At times a second staging area is formed on the north side of Dorion, east of the drive-through entrance. These staging areas present an undue hazard to users of Dorion.  A residential street of standard width, Dorion Avenue is one of only three outlet roads leading from Riverview Park onto the east side of Alta Vista Drive. Consequently it is heavily used by both pedestrians and residential vehicles.  

Both the north and south staging areas for the drive-through are posted no-parking zones, so marked in recognition of the danger imposed by parked vehicles. Although the patrons of the drive-through are “standing” rather than “parking”, this standing is so continuous (particularly during the morning commute) as to take the form of parking.  The adverse impact upon safety of such staging is most extreme in winter, when the streets have already been narrowed by accumulated snow.  At this time of year the staging of cars impedes two way traffic. Furthermore, the north side sidewalk and bike lane of Dorion is commonly blocked by vehicles lined up to enter the drive-through preventing ease of passage.  

4) Public Subsidization of TDL operations:  Inexplicably, the City of Ottawa had (still does) allow TDL and the Owners to utilize Dorion, a public road, for purposes never intended and purposes effectively denied to residents. If the Owners & TDL wish to operate a drive-through they should do so on land they have acquired through freehold or leasehold, i.e. at their expense.  Approval of the Consent Application would effectively transfer, for decades to come, the “right of first use” of a public asset to a private for-profit enterprise. I can imagine no justification for the City of Ottawa to subsidize TDL operations nor employ a regulatory regime for the purpose of disguising such subsidization.   

5) Social attitudes change:  At the time this drive-through was constructed there had been little talk of climate change,  no consideration of massive city investment in public transit, and it was not until 2008 that Canadian Provinces and Territories began to introduce distracted driving laws. Additionally the drive-through would have predated the current extensive limitations on traffic in residential areas and the public outcry over single use plastics.  In other words, TDL’s outlet on Alta Vista Drive pre-dates the modern concept of social harm.

The Consent Application seeks your approval to allow TDL to continue, for decades to come, practices not only rooted in the past but increasingly at odds with social interests and City of Ottawa priorities. It’s drive-through operation, in a small way, encourages/rewards/induces vehicle use, particularly for commuting purposes, which runs contrary to the City’s commitment to public transit (the restaurant is located almost within the shadow of a LRT station).  The drive-through relies upon engine idling which is a significant contributor to climate change, a practice at odds with the City’s declaration of a climate emergency. Its drive-through delivery of food and beverages facilitates drinking/eating while driving. Although those practices are not illegal, the Ministry of Transport and RCMP each recognize the practices as dangerous. Indeed, the holding of (non-digital) objects & eating is the second most common cause for careless driving infractions… and from 2012 careless driving has been acknowledged as the single most common cause of vehicle fatalities in Ontario.

I will also mention that as a person who has, and will continue, to periodically clean community parks, a significant amount of the litter & waste to be found in a nearby park is packaging from that Tim Hortons outlet.  Operating a “consume as you go” business in a residential area invariably results in illegal littering. Yet TDL offers no labour nor financial support to offset the clean-up and disposal of its illegally disposed waste.  Another cost passed along to society.

In summary, the TDL operation on Alta Vista Drive obviously offers its patrons convenience.  But in exchange for that convenience we residents are asked to surrender part of our public street, accept what is apparently a non-conforming drive-through, deal with higher levels of traffic and accept higher road safety risks.  The broader society is required to accept more vehicles on the road, a higher level of emissions from engine idling, more vehicle/less public transit usage, a heightened risk of distracted/careless driving and continued public litter.

While I realize the Committee’s mandate may be too narrow to respond fully to the concerns raised in point 5, it isyou to whom this Consent Application has been directed.  If you cannot weigh these factors, then who will?

David Knockaert