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Council hears from delegation on drive-through restaurants

Kimberley City Council heard from a delegation at a special meeting on Monday, July 8, 2024 who want to put a drive-through restaurant and gas station at former Chalet Chev building
Kimberley City Hall

Kimberley City Council heard from a delegation at a special meeting on Monday, July 8, 2024. Jay McKeen and Jason Williams spoke to council on drive-throughs and gas stations, specifically the potential of rezoning 1142 304th St. (the former Chalet Chev building) to allow for a drive-through restaurant.

Later that meeting council discussed drive-throughs and gas stations in general and requested staff to present them some options for regulating them.

Currently there is a Yamaha Motorsports dealership on the site. One of the areas McKeen stressed about the planned commercial development was that it would include Level 3 electric vehicle chargers. Level 3 chargers are much faster than the current Level 2 chargers Kimberley has, which take about 10 hours to charge.

Level 3 chargers are a significant investment, he said, costing about $50,000 to $100,000. Charging stations require space not available in the downtown area of Kimberley, McKeen said, but customers do want amenities such as a restaurant while charging their vehicle. Keeping charging stations in commercial nodes along the highways should be considered, he said.

While substantial investment has already been made at the location, such as $4.5 million just to purchase the land and building, McKeen said that the property required more development in order to service that debt. He believes the highest and best use of the land is highway commercial.

Some councillors indicated that their stance on the issue of drive-throughs and gas stations had not changed since a similar proposal was denied last year.

Coun. Jason McBain said that if the proponents had followed that particular issue, they should understand the position of councillors.

He said Kimberley had managed to prosper without national chain franchises and while a comparison to Invermere was mentioned in the presentation said, “We are not Invermere. I have no interest in being Invermere.”

As for the EV charging, he said his position was that the downtown area was where people should be directed when charging vehicles.

Coun. Kevin Dunnebacke agreed. “We need to focus on building what we have,” he said. “We should use the industrial zone for industrial uses.”

Coun. Sandra Roberts questioned whether there was land available in the downtown area for banks of EV chargers. She said that the recent survey of Kimberley residents regarding drive-throughs and gas stations was almost 50 per cent for, 50 per cent against. That, she said, was not enough of a mandate for her to turn down a commercial development request.

“You can’t just put your foot down and say nuh uh we are not doing that,” she said. “It’s not a smart move.”

Coun. Woody Maguire also pointed to a question in the same survey that said 95 per cent of Kimberley residents wanted such developments either regulated or outright banned.

"Only 12 per cent approved of no regulation at all,” he said.

He also, would prefer to see EV chargers downtown.

Coun. Sue Cairns said that while she wished the proponents success with the property, Kimberley was not on a major through highway where many vehicles would need EV chargers on the edge of town.

“We are a destination,” she said.

“Our single economic driver is tourism,” said Mayor Don McCormick. “Half the businesses in town would disappear without tourists. Our tourism is rubber tire driven. Our role as councillors isn’t to dictate what development comes to Kimberley, Every investor has an opportunity to come to council to make their case. Council needs to keep open minds.”

As yet, no formal application for rezoning to allow for the development has been submitted to the city's Planning Department

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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