Oppose drive-through at 70 Richmond Road (Island Park)

15 04 2016

A proposal to site a drive-through coffee shop at the intersection of Richmond Road and Island Park Drive has gotten much recent media attention. At its last meeting the MPCA executive agreed to sign-on to a letter with broad support of community associations across Kitchissippi ward, opposing that proposal. That letter is quoted below.

In addition to the Association’s letter, individuals, too, are encouraged to express their opinions to the planner. Time is limited: the comment period closes on Monday (April 18) although opinions are sometimes considered for a short time after the official date. To date, city planners have not advocated this proposal, so there’s no call for adversarial messages.

The text of the Association’s letter:

Attn: Andrew McCreight (andrew.mccreight@ottawa.ca)
Planner, Development Review, Urbanist
110 Laurier Ave W | Ottawa, Ontario | K1P 1J1

D02-02-16-0017 Zoning By-Law Amendment &
D07-12-16-0031 Site Plan Control for 70 Richmond Rd

Dear Mr. McCreight,

The McKellar Park Community Association is opposed to a drive-through at 70 Richmond Rd.

The proposal meets neither the spirit nor the letter of the Official Plan or the secondary plan of this neighbourhood. The secondary plan states that intensification must “Consider the traffic impact on north-south residential streets south of the planning area”. If permitted, the drive-through would have a severely negative impact on the tight-knit pedestrian oriented fabric of this traditional mainstreet. There is wide support for a development of some kind at this location and the heritage designation of the gas station allows for many creative and appealing options. However, any proposed development must not have a drive-through.

The Urban Design Guidelines for Drive-Through Facilities states:

The Official Plan identifies compatibility as a key design objective for the built environment over the next 20 years. As per sections 2.5.1 and 4.11 of the OP, achieving the compatibility of new development, such as a drive-through facility, will involve not only considerations of built form, but also of operational characteristics and the development context. While successful and popular, drive-through facilities present many urban design challenges, including respecting the urban context while designing prototypical drive-through facility sites and buildings; supporting a pedestrian friendly environment along public streets; using landscape areas effectively to improve the overall environmental and visual quality of the area; and designing efficient stacking movements on site.

A drive-through does not agree with the Official Plan’s concept of compatibility as a key design objective.

A drive-through is inappropriate for this location because:

  • Traditional Mainstreet: Richmond Rd is zoned as a traditional mainstreet, which does not allow drive-throughs. The Urban Design Guidelines for Development along Traditional Mainstreets (http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/planning-and-development/community-plans-and-design-guidelines/design-and-planning-0-1-10) says, “They [TMs] generally present a tightly knit urban fabric, with buildings that are often small-scale, with narrow frontages and set close to and addressing the street. This results in a strong pedestrian orientation and transit-friendly environment.” The guidelines go on to further state that, “To remain competitive with outlying commercial shopping areas, Traditional Mainstreets must continue to respond to market trends. At the same time, to retain their role as an integral part of their surrounding community, new development must be of a type and scale that is compatible in form and considers the context of the street.” The drive-through proposed at this location does not contribute to a “tightly knit urban fabric,” nor is the placement of the development set close to the street. As well, a drive-through is not in keeping with the type and scale of the street.
  • Immediate community traffic impacts: The drive-through will drastically impact the traffic flow at this already chaotic intersection and the mitigation techniques proposed in the Traffic Impact Study report included in this application, such as changing the signal timing of the traffic lights and prohibiting left-hand turns out of the drive-through on Island Park Drive, will not solve these impacts. The traffic studies completed as part of the report were done at malls and in areas that have no similarities to 70 Richmond Rd. Therefore a drive-through at 70 Richmond Rd is not compatible with the urban context.
  • Champlain Bridge impacts: The increased traffic as a result of the drive-through will add to the congestion around this intersection, making the drive to the Champlain Bridge more difficult. Therefore a drive-through at 70 Richmond Rd is not compatible with the operational characteristics context.
  • Pedestrian and cyclist impacts: The drive-through will drastically affect the walkability of the street and the connection between Richmond Rd and Wellington St West. There is already a natural divide between the shopping areas of Wellington West and Westboro. The entrance to the drive-through, with the cars turning in and waiting to turn in, will create issues with walkability and pose a dangerous situation to pedestrians and cyclists. Therefore a drive-through at 70 Richmond Rd is not compatible with the urban context and does not support a pedestrian and cyclist friendly environment along the street.
  • Environmental impacts: The environmental impacts of cars idling while waiting to go through the drive-through is a concern. The proposal also includes cutting down trees, some of which are mature trees, along the rear lot abutting the residential property. Therefore this proposed drive-through at 70 Richmond Rd is not appropriate by not improving the overall environmental and visual quality of the area.
  • Unnecessary proposal: There are many examples of successful coffee-related businesses along and around Richmond Rd and Wellington St West that have not needed a drive-through to generate business. Examples of these businesses include:
Ottawa Bagelshop and Deli (1321 Wellington St W) Swiss Pastries (205 Richmond Rd)
Bridgehead Coffee (1277 Wellington St W) Oh So Good (261 Richmond Rd)
Thyme & Again (1255 Wellington St W) Simply Biscotti (307 Richmond Rd)
Nectar Fine Teas (1250 Wellington St W) Pietro’s corner (300 Richmond Rd)
Blumenstudio (465 Parkdale Ave) Equator Coffee (412 Churchill Ave N)
Bridgehead Coffee (1024 Wellington St W) Bridgehead Coffee (362 Richmond Rd)
Ministry of Coffee and Social Affairs (1013 Wellington St W) Starbucks (421 Richmond Rd)
Nestle Toll house Cafe (111 Richmond Rd) Bridgehead Coffee (440 Richmond Rd)

These businesses and their success show that a drive-through is unnecessary for a coffee-shop to be successful in the urban context of the area.Further to the above-listed rationale, the proposed drive-through does not comply to the following guidelines as set out in the City of Ottawa Urban Design Guidelines for Drive-Through Facilities (http://ottawa.ca/en/city-hall/planning-and-development/community-plans-and-design-guidelines/design-and-planning-0-1-11):

  • Guideline 1: Respond to the positive elements of the context through such means as building height, setbacks, building orientation and architectural styles.
    While the proposed renovation of the building responds positively to the context of the area, the drive-through aspect does not.
  • Guideline 2: Locate buildings close to the street to help define the street edge.
    The building will be on the other side of the lot, with parking along the street edge.
  • Guideline 3: Provide ample landscaping, in combination with building orientation, to enhance the streetscape and define the street edge when setting buildings back from the street is unavoidable.
    By having the parking along the street edge, the proposal does not enhance the streetscape. The building is able to be moved to the street edge but this is not included in the proposal.
  • Guideline 17: Locate surface parking areas and stacking lanes at the side or rear of the buildings.
    The surface parking areas are located in front of the building, along the street edge.
  • Guideline 23: Provide escape lanes and the appropriate number of queuing spaces as required by the Zoning By-law to create efficient stacking lanes and to minimize on-site conflicts.
    There are no escape lanes included in the proposal.
  • Guideline 25: Design the on-site circulation to minimize the conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.
    The entrance and exit for the drive-through will conflict with pedestrians, vehicles and cyclists.
  • Guideline 45: Locate noise-generating areas, including ordering board speakers, outdoor loading areas and garbage storage, away from sensitive uses such as residential areas and schools.
    The ordering board speakers are directly facing the side and backyard of residential home, with a 2.2metre high fence. This fence will not eliminate the noise from the ordering board speakers or the vehicles. The garbage storage is located on the southwest corner of the lot, abutting the side and backyard of a residential home.
  • Guideline 48: Plan the site to include areas for temporary snow storage without conflicting with site circulation, landscaping and utility boxes.
    The plans do not show any temporary storage for snow.
  • Guideline 49: Provide views and clear sightlines between the site and surrounding uses to ensure sufficient safety and comfort levels.
    It can be argued that the sightlines are not sufficiently clear or safe.

It is clear that the proposed drive-through does not meet these criteria.

We are convinced that this property lends itself to many viable options. The degree to which a food or beverage oriented business can succeed on a pedestrian oriented traditional main street is made clear by the following thoughts from Tracey Clark, CEO of Ottawa-based Bridgehead Coffee: “Whether it was a coffee shop, or a burger joint proposing to operate a drive-through at this intersection, we oppose it on the basis that drive-through are not permitted on Traditional Mainstreets.  A drive-through is the antithesis of the intent of the Traditional Mainstreet designation, which purposefully excludes auto-related uses, and is intended to support a broad range of uses accessed by foot, cycle, transit and automobile.”

A drive-through does not agree with the Official Plan’s concept of compatibility as a key design objective, is not compatible with the designation of a traditional mainstreet, is inappropriate for the context of the area and does not comply to the guidelines as set out in the City of Ottawa Urban Design Guidelines for Drive-Through Facilities.

We strongly request that you recommend that Planning Committee Recommend that Council reject D02-02-16-0017 Zoning By-Law Amendment for 70 Richmond Rd.Thank you.