The owner of a popular coffee shop has taken issue with a proposal made by the Public Works and Planning committee at last week's regular meeting of the Grand Falls-Windsor Town Council.
Councillor and Public Works and Planning Chair Darrin Finn said at Tuesday's meeting that the committee recommends council support proposed changes to the configuration of the Tim Hortons drive-thru that will improve traffic flow. Council minutes name limiting left hand turns out of the parking lot onto Cromer Avenue – the town's busiest street – as the main proposed change. The minutes also read that the committee intends to meet with the owner of Tim Hortons, and if problems continue, further changes will be made.
Coun. Finn said the recommendation came from a third-party traffic study completed last year that was aimed at identifying problem areas in Grand Falls-Windsor.
"They studied 12 intersections in our town," he said. "One of them was where Tim Hortons is (located). It's a particularly high conflict area, and we asked for recommendations to deal with the high traffic that business draws."
He said because most of the possible conflicts come from left turning traffic, both in and out of the parking lot, limiting one of them was proposed as a solution.
When the Advertiser asked Tim Hortons owner Duane Sutherland how he felt about the proposed changes, he said he hadn't been made aware of them.
"The town hasn't even approached me about it...I find it awfully disturbing that the town would try to hinder a business and not even discuss it with the owner of the business in their decision making process," Sutherland said.
He added the only discussions he's had with the Town were based around proposing his own changes to the drive-thru area in order to accommodate more vehicles.
Sutherland said he doesn't see any reason why his business should be singled out as causing a problem, and if the Town intends to eliminate left turns onto Cromer Avenue, it needs to include all businesses located on the street in any new by-laws.
According to Sutherland, several years ago, work was completed on the Tim Hortons property that moved the drive-thru area, and widened the entrance. He said this eliminated any issues with left turning traffic.
Coun. Finn, however, said there's a good reason why the Town would only limit left turns out of Tim Hortons.
"This particular (business) is right at an intersection (of Cromer and Pinsent) where there are signal lights and the traffic is already blocked up," said Coun. Finn. "The more lanes of traffic you cross when it's congested increases potential for accidents."
He said because Tim Hortons has two exits, one exciting onto Pinsent and one onto Cromer, it shouldn't cause an inconvenience for customers.
'I'd invite (the councillors) to come see how often a car turns left out of our parking lot when it's busy," said Sutherland. "It's very rare. I wouldn't turn left there when the lights are backed up and its in the middle of the day no more than I would want to turn left if I was coming out of Canadian Tire."
Coun. Finn said he's aware of some changes Tim Hortons is working on for its parking lot, but said the Town wants to reserve its own options. Sutherland acknowledged his business is working on making changes to the property but said he wasn't ready to discuss what those changes will entail.
"We think their changes will improve things," said Coun. Finn. "Our intention is to still eliminate left hand turns leaving the Tim Hortons parking lot."
He said he's hoping to see the rule implemented and signage erected before the end of this year's construction season.
"It's really the municipality's responsibility to control what's in the public's way...We'll do whatever we need to do to remove or reduce traffic conflicts," said Coun. Finn. "We can order changes, but we prefer to work with business owners."