Council just couldn’t approve a parking variance to the degree that the Smithers McDonalds location was looking for.
Those were the words of Mayor Cress Farrow, following their last council meeting.
“It was a really tough decision, there was a lot of debate going on,” Farrow said. “We decided the variance was too great, we could not reduce the amount of spaces that they required.”
In order to expand their store by 452 square feet the Smithers McDonalds location would have to cut the amount of parking stalls in their establishment from 51 to 28 spaces. The location already has a five stall variance established in 1999.
But as the restaurant planned to increase dining-in space as well, providing 38 additional seats, council felt that more, not less, parking should be required.
With that in mind, Councillor Charlie Northrup moved that the development variance be granted, but that 38, not 28, parking stalls be provided.
“They can go ahead with the development, subject to them coming up with the parking,” Farrow said. “Now that the decision is made they can go back to the drawing board and come up with a solution that’s in the interest of McDonalds, but also in the interests of the safety of this community.”
Drive-thru concerns expressed at the last meeting will not be addressed, Farrow added.
“Obviously it’s a great concern because it’s not the greatest drive thru in approach and design, however the property is very small,” Farrow said.
As it stands, this decision means that McDonalds will not be expanding, Smithers McDonald’s owner and operator Shane Doodson said.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to get 10 spots in the parking lot, so in this case we will not be expanding,” Doodson said.
While currently waiting for their designers to send back a revised renovation plan, it looks like the Play Place will be drastically reduced instead, a move Doodson was hoping to avoid.
“They’ll be looking at reducing the Play Place and keeping the building as it is,” Doodson said. “We really don’t want to lose seats, so in order to keep those seats we will probably reduce the playground.”
The new renovations are making way for an expanded and more efficient kitchen as well as a self serve beverage machine in the lobby.
“The project is going to go ahead, we have to have it done by the end of September,” Doodson said.
They will be closing for about one week as renovations progress, but they plan to remain open through most of the renovations, either in the lobby or in the drive thru.
They are planning a grand opening when all is said and done, although the date hasn’t been established yet.