Renfrew --The potential arrival of a new Starbucks and two unnamed eateries on a soon-to-be-built multiplex building on O’Brien Road has some residents wondering if the quiet lifestyle that Renfrew was famous for during its first 150 years are just a memory as another construction project is ready to begin on what is already the town’s busiest road.
At its most recent meeting, members of town council approved a site plan for a future restaurant complex which likely will include an outlet for Starbucks, which is one of North America’s favourite and profitable chains of fast food/coffee franchises.
The new complex, located a t 785 O’Brien Road, will occupy the site currently used by a local taxi company and with a Tim Hortons outlet across the street, there may be coffee wars in the town of just over 8,000.
Eric Withers, the town planner who is managing this project scheduled to begin this fall, said although it may sound complicated, the finished project will include two drive-thru lanes and augmented by professional landscaping and amenities. A similar clause outlining beautification measures can be seen at the Shell station at the corner of Hall Avenue and Raglan Street South.
Mr. Withers said while it may appear all potential land use has been claimed by local developers, town residents should not be worried about an extra coffee shop and two restaurants on the highway link bringing together Highways 60 and 132 and more importantly, more shoppers and tourists.
“I know as soon as you say more development, some people just shake their heads and grumble,” he said. “It will be busier before and it will likely be a little busier once construction is completed.”
Like all unmarked construction projects found in small towns, the gossip wheel began spinning and one day it may be a Pizza Hut moving in, while others are convinced it will be the new location of the KFC that is scheduled to vacate the main street building before December 31.
“You have no idea how many times I am asked to reveal the identity of potential occupants,” he said. “But I do have strict confidentiality rules under the Planning Act and even if I could share information about the upcoming occupants I am not allowed.”
One spin-off benefit that came out of the announcement is the well-groomed Algonquin Trail will provide easy access to the groups of people who just want to jump off their bikes, ATVs or snowmobiles and to grab a bite to eat.
Mr. Withers said the town has been working with the developer, Trivirtus Group, on this upcoming project and among the scheduled costs are a $33,000 deferred benefit charge for previously extending the sanitary sewer to the property.
Mayor Don Eady is well aware of how quickly traffic can get bogged down on the roadway, but says it is a good problem to have.
“I understand and appreciate that sometimes it does get congested and people can get frustrated,” he said. “But it will only be temporary and in the meantime that is three new businesses opening up and that means more employment opportunities. It is always a good sign when a company comes to town because that means jobs for the good folks who will benefit the most.”
In addition to the new restaurant complex, Mr. Withers explained the site of the current “park and ride” lot will be expanded to include more parking spots.
“One of the conditions of permitting more preparatory work to be done by Trivitus is their commitment to dedicate an easement for the future expansion of sanitary services along that road,” Mr. Withers said. He informed council that construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 to meet reporting and financial deadlines set down by the province.”
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader