Update on proposed gas bar for Cumberland (Lamplighter article Sept 2014)

By Rebecca Dufton, CCA City Liaison

The owner of 4.5 hectares (approximately 11 acres) on 2725 Old Montreal Road wants to develop a gas bar, convenience store and drive-through coffee shop as the first phase of a commercial development for the Village. The Markham, Ontario-based developer has applied to close a portion of Peter Harkness Lane from Regional Road 174 to Sparkle Street and to extend Barnett Drive approximately 130 metres to connect to Regional Road 174. The business would be located on the southwest corner of the 174 and the Barnett Drive extension.

The proposal calls for a 3,200 square foot convenience store and coffee shop with an associated drive-through. In addition, the proposed building includes an 800 square foot apartment located on the second level. The gas bar would feature separate pumps all under one overhead canopy. A total of 13 parking spaces would be provided directly in front of the building along the north and west building elevations.

A public meeting on the proposed development was held in June 2013. Cumberland residents raised a number of issues, including the impact on Mr. Gas and S&S Foodliner (Haddad’s store), disruption to the surrounding neighbourhood, and traffic and safety concerns along Regional Road 174. The developer’s plan assumes the 174 will be widened to four lanes, but does not intend to pay for a traffic light at the new intersection. A further concern is that a drive through facility is incompatible with the character of an historic rural village like Cumberland.

The property is zoned Village Commercial, which allows a number of uses including a gas bar, restaurant, bar, day care, office, retail store, animal hospital, etc. Drive-through facilities are not listed as a permitted use under the current village commercial zoning.

A review of drive-through facilities was conducted as part of the updated Secondary Plan for Rural Villages in 2012. City planners determined that drive-through facilities are not compatible with the character of rural villages. Ultimately, drive through facilities were not prohibited in the Official Plan, but are “generally not permitted in village core areas”. Many cities have taken steps to restrict them because they do not contribute to pedestrian-friendly communities and contribute to air pollution from idling.

According to the City of Ottawa, the objective of the Village Commercial designation is to provide a wide range of goods and services to village residents and the surrounding rural community. Village Commercial uses are intended to augment businesses in the village by attracting new development of a scale and type not compatible with the more constrained parcels sizes and walkable character of the Village Core.

As part of a three-year visioning exercise with city planner David Atkinson, Cumberland residents identified a number of businesses that were much needed in the Village.  Among them were restaurants and coffee shops where residents could meet, artist studios, boutiques and specialty stores. Unfortunately, the current proposal only duplicates existing services. CCA has requested an opportunity to meet with the developer to discuss the types of businesses and services needed in the Village. To date, no meeting has taken place.

On June 20, 2014, The City provided its comments and public feedback to the developer. The application is hold while the City awaits the applicant’s response to the comments and the submission of revised plans and reports.  It is anticipated that a public meeting will be held for residents to provide further feedback on the development proposal.  Watch for more details on the CCA website.