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Someone needs to be accountable for eyesore at west entrance to town


Driving down Highway 16 and entering Smithers from the west, one of the first views of town includes a messy construction site. The fenced-off corner of the highway and Toronto St. is not a good welcome to our beautiful town.

Of course, it should just be temporary. Often things get messy before they can become beautiful. The former restaurant that sat there was deteriorating. It was welcome news when the site was bought and big plans for the future site were presented to Smithers council.

However, it seems like things are taking much longer than originally proposed.

A building permit was issued for the address in July of 2021 for the installation of a Burger King restaurant.

In the fall of 2021, council passed first and second reading of a zoning bylaw that would allow for the development of a gas bar, convenience store, and restaurant inside the store and a drive-thru.

The restaurant within the convenience store is a Burger King with a seating capacity of eight to twelve, and developers told council at the time that they were currently in talks with the Shell corporation as the proposed service station.

The former Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) store struggled for several years, rebranded to include Taco Bell, and then went back to the original KFC-only store before closing permanently in 2018.

The Burger King was open for a brief period of time, but closed to make way for the second phase of the project.

In May 2023, council approved a Form and Character Development Permit for the second phase, the addition of the convenience store and a gas station. According to town staff it is still valid.

A Stop Work Order was placed on a portion of the project by Worksafe BC in early December 2023 but that order has now been lifted.

Burger King said in an email to The Interior News it is still planning on reopening this summer. It’s not even clear who the developer is. All the town could provide was a registered number and repeated attempts to email a company we think might be associated with the number have been futile.

A recent phone call to The Interior News from a contractor who claims to have not been paid for his work is worrisome.

We want to welcome development and have new businesses come to town. However, we also need the developers to be prompt, care about the community and properly communicate with residents.

Somebody needs to be held accountable for this mess so that at least the restaurant can be open and the property is cleaned up before what promises to be a busy tourist season opens.

Marisca Bakker

About the Author: Marisca Bakker

Marisca was born and raised in Ontario and moved to Smithers almost ten years ago on a one-year contract.
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