Whitehorse city council should say no to proposed Dairy Queen drive-thru, say city staff

·2 min read
Site of a proposed drive-thru restaurant in Whitehorse.  (City of Whitehorse - image credit)
Site of a proposed drive-thru restaurant in Whitehorse. (City of Whitehorse - image credit)

City of Whitehorse staff are recommending council vote against a zoning change for a proposed drive-thru restaurant.

It's pitched to be built along Range Road just off the Alaska Highway, and adjacent to the airport. The lot's zoning currently allows for an eating or drinking establishment, but not with a drive-thru. That would require an amendment approved by council.

The restaurant in question — a proposed Dairy Queen drive-thru, though it's not named in council documents — is not exactly problematic, though the drive-thru option is causing some push back, according to some city staff.

At a council meeting on Tuesday, Mélodie Simard, the planning and sustainability manager for the city, read a six-page public hearing report saying a drive-thru is not in line with the city's official community plan.

The report cites part of the reason being that the proposed change in zoning may encourage small scale commercial usage on a large scale commercial lot "which is in short supply."

"It may also result in more people driving to use the establishment than [at] an eating and drinking establishment without a drive thru component," Simard read from the report.

"It may also further encourage ... distracted driving and increased safety risks."

Instead, city officials said under current zoning, a restaurant could be built without a drive-thru attached.

'Hundreds' in support

But not all councillors agree with the report, including Coun. Laura Cabbott, who called it "unbalanced."

"I was quite disappointed with this public hearing report," Cabott said, adding it was meant to summarize the public's concerns and their support, along with some analysis by staff.

"Much of the report emphasizes the negative comments."

She also questioned the accuracy on the number of written submissions for and against this proposal.

She says the report referred to a total of 14 submissions which expressed support, and 11 opposing the rezoning and one expressing concern.

"I find that very perplexing," she said.

"Because, when I go to the city website, and see a summary of the support, I start counting and adding it up, and in fact, there are hundreds and hundreds of Whitehorse residents that are supporting this project."

No final decision has been made yet on the proposed drive-thru. City councillors are set to vote on the zoning amendment on April 13.