Tim’s lineups spark halt to new St. John’s drive-thrus
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 6, 2009 | 5:46 AM ET Comments177Recommend78
The city council in St. John’s has ordered a moratorium on new drive-thru applications, amid concerns that long lineups at some coffee shops are posing persistent traffic and safety hazards.
The only lineups cited at Monday evening’s regular council meeting involved Tim Hortons franchises across St. John’s, although the moratorium will apply to other franchises.
Councillors said new applications will not be approved until the city is confident traffic will not be affected.
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said the problem is particularly bad around a Tim Hortons shop on Topsail Road.
“It’s a public highway which becomes a stacking lane for Tim Hortons,” said O’Keefe.
“I have seen drivers out of pure frustration pull out into the adjoining lane and try to go on west early in the morning, and one of these fine days there’s going to be a tragedy there — or in any one of the other ones where public highways are used for stacking lanes for Tim Hortons,” O’Keefe told the meeting.
Deputy Mayor Ron Ellsworth said the situation is unique to Tim Hortons restaurants, but added the company should not be demonized because it is so popular with consumers.
Ellsworth noted that other locations — including Thorburn Road, Ropewalk Lane and a location in the Goulds — have had traffic problems.
“Every one of them is an issue, but I also think we have to recognize that Tim Hortons is a good corporate citizen,” Ellsworth said.
“They’ve been very good to our community. They’ve been very good to programs in our community. And certainly I don’t want this to be a black mark on Tim Hortons in any way, shape or form.”
Ellsworth said he wants the company to meet with council to work out a solution to chronic traffic problems.
Traffic at Tim Hortons prompts crackdown on drive-thrus in St. John’s, N.L.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The ubiquitous Tim Hortons drive-thru, a daily pit stop for many Canadians on their way to work, has brewed a controversy in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city.
Municipal politicians in St. John’s have passed a motion that prohibits the establishment of new drive-thru operations unless businesses can prove to the city’s traffic department that vehicles won’t spill out onto public streets.
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said while there wasn’t much public pressure calling for the legislation, it came about because of safety concerns arising from traffic lining up along drive-thrus and spilling out onto roads.
“We have had incidents where fender benders have resulted,” O’Keefe said in an interview Tuesday.
“Inevitably . . . something tragic is going to happen if it’s allowed to continue.”
O’Keefe said the resolution passed Monday doesn’t target any specific business but was triggered by the growing popularity of Tim Hortons drive-thrus in the city.
“I guess in many ways they are the victim of their own popularity and their own success,” he said, adding that possible solutions could include more drive-thru lanes at each location and separate express lanes at busy times of the day where only coffee is sold.
A spokeswoman for Tim Hortons said the company has met with city officials to address traffic concerns and hires extra staff during peak periods.
Rachel Douglas, the company’s public affairs director, also said Tim Hortons is renovating at least one outlet in the city to improve traffic flow.
“Tim Hortons is continuously working on making our sites better to serve our customers faster,” Douglas said in a statement.
“We will continue to work with the city to find solutions wherever possible to address traffic concerns.”
The motion, which took effect immediately, sparked a flurry of reaction from private enterprise and the public.
“Go in, have your coffee, by all means,” said Bill Rowe, host of a popular radio call-in show broadcast provincewide.
“But get off your big duff and go in, walk in, and get it rather than hold off in your car waiting for 20 minutes, beefing and stewing and complaining.”
Local blogger Peter Whittle slammed city councillors for launching a “jihad” against Tim Hortons and chalked up any possible public safety risk to their failed zoning and planning.
Bradley George, a spokesman for the provincial branch of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said the legislation sends a discouraging message to entrepreneurs and condemned it for pinning “blame squarely on the shoulders of successful business owners, rather than drivers or customers.”
In recent years, several major cities in Canada have debated the merits of banning drive-thrus because of both traffic problems and environmental concerns stemming from idling cars.
In 2002, for instance, the City of Toronto enacted a bylaw banning new drive-thrus from opening up within 30 metres of a residence.