New Vernon coffee shop drives-thru with plan

Fruit Union Plaza wants to add second drive-thru by A&W; ‘Will never work,’ says councillor

Members of city council are baffled by a plan to add a drive-thru at Vernon’s Fruit Union Plaza beside an existing drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. (City of Vernon photo)

Members of city council are baffled by a plan to add a drive-thru at Vernon’s Fruit Union Plaza beside an existing drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. (City of Vernon photo)

Vernon councillors admit they don’t mind a Mozza Burger from A&W every now and then. Maybe some onion rings, too. Possibly a milkshake.

But putting in a drive-thru for a new business (possibly a coffee shop) opposite the existing A&W drive-thru at the Fruit Union Plaza will be a traffic nightmare, according to one councillor.

The applicant and city staff say it will work.

The property owner of the plaza, at 3101 Highway 6, has been working on a development permit application for a new drive-thru using the east side of the existing plaza building, the end unit of which once housed a pharmacy.

Two different engineering consultants – one paid for by applicant, one third-party review paid by the city – have indicated that the layout proposed will function adequately, much to the disagreement of Coun. Akbal Mund.

“This will never work,” said Mund during the first regular meeting of council in 2022, Monday, Jan. 10. “The proposal I see here says we want to construct a drive-thru lane and have it cross a road path, and it’s just going to block traffic constantly. I have no idea how this even got to the drawing board.

“If anybody’s been to that site, A&W backs up from north to south in the existing lane and sometimes around the corner and I’m like ‘I just don’t see this working. It’s going to be nuts,’” Mund said.

“People couldn’t even wait half a car length to block the other exit off,” he said. “I don’t see this happening…This is a nightmare.”

However, speaking on behalf of staff, city community development director Kim Flick said a drive-thru is a permitted use on the site, and a new drive-thru in that location will be accepted in principle due to current bylaw regulations.

“The developer’s engineering consultant submitted a plan showing how it can work,” said Flick. “City staff shared the concerns that have just been raised, and we requested a third-party engineering firm to review it. That firm came back and said it is doable (drawing a heavy ‘what?’ from Mund).

“Therefore, a DP (development permit) has to be issued if they can meet all of the conditions.”

“Wow,” said Mund.

Coun. Kelly Fehr, admitted Mozza Burger fan, agreed with Mund, particularly on the traffic, but added if engineering firms say it can be done, “I look forward to navigating that parking lot.”

Mayor Victor Cumming is also a non-believer in the plan.

“I, too, have enjoyed some of the services there in that whole parking area and often access it off the alley coming off of 30th Street, turning right then left into the parking lot. It’s always a full and active corner,” said Cumming. “I can’t imagine going into that drive-thru and turning right out of the parking lot across the incoming traffic to make it to the alley way.

“I’m equally surprised with what’s going to happen when someone wants to come into the southern part of the parking when there are two rows of vehicles waiting for their respective drive-thrus. How do you get access to those parking spots?”

Flick said there will be some reconfiguration of the parking in the area to accommodate the two drive-thrus in the plan. Those details are still being worked out, she said, adding the developer still meets the minimum required parking in the application even with the removal of the parking spots.

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