Lining up – Grande Prairie may look at bylaw on drive-thru …

Lining up – Grande Prairie may look at bylaw on drive-thru operations to alleviate traffic issues with long lineups

PALOMA MIGONE – Herald-Tribune staff

Tim Hortons’ customers, on 100 Street and 103 Avenue, agree the long drive-thru lines spilling out on streets can be hazardous.

Long lines at a Tim Hortons’ drive-thru are ubiquitous in Grande Prairie, as hundreds of residents make daily stops for hot coffee.

The coffee company recently made headlines after St. John’s, N.L. opted to ban new drive-thru operations in the city unless businesses can prove that vehicles will not line up on streets.

The St. John’s decision came after safety concerns were raised due to traffic spilling out onto roads at a Tim Hortons location in that city.

As to whether Grande Prairie would adopt a similar bylaw, Mayor Dwight Logan said absolutely.

“What a good idea,” he said. “We are actually stuck with some situations that I regard as extremely dangerous, where you see people that are waiting in line for coffee and they’ve got their vehicle partially or totally out on an arterial roadway. No, that’s an excellent idea.”

The mayor said the city recognizes there is a problem and is working to change the standards of required stacking space for drive-thrus.

“We’re doing a general municipal plan and we are going to increase the stacking spaces for drive-thrus. We are talking about that and putting it in the draft (plan).”

Residents also identify the safety hazards at drive-thrus around the city.

Customer Nicole Mutschmann, who was at a Tim Hortons drive-thru on 100 Street and 103 Avenue, said she doesn’t find it safe.

“They should have drive-thrus, but if it’s interrupting the street they shouldn’t be allowed to park there.”

Jacqie Seper, also waiting at the drive-thru, said the Tim Hortons on 103 Avenue doesn’t get too bad because everyone stays tucked around the side of the road, but added the one on 100 Street near 117 Avenue is dreadful.

“Someone is going to get hurt there one day because the traffic is so terrible. People can’t see anything and they still keep going. I avoid that one,” she said.

The Tim Hortons location on 100 Avenue is the worst, said customer Deanna Mowat.

“People come out onto the bypass (100 Avenue) and you come up that hill and there is a lineup out there. That one is a problem for sure.”

Enforcement Services program manager Garry Roth said the city gives out tickets since vehicles are not allowed to hold up traffic.

“We’ve had complaints in the past of drive-thru lines that have gone out to the streets and we just enforce them as we would any other traffic law. When people are waiting on a line that does back up onto a street, they’re not allowed to obstruct traffic.”

Roth added customers sometimes block stop signs and parking zones as well.

“I think our office has worked with development services a little. I know there have been changes made to the land-use application, just to change the requirements for any new drive-thrus. For example, to increase the line on their own property, so that there would be less cars backing up onto the street,” said Roth.

Tim Hortons owner Serge Allard declined to comment for this story.

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