Grand Forks council voted in favour of supporting the development of Tim Hortons, among other businesses, on the vacant lot east of Kal Tire at the regular May 30 council meeting.
Council approved the motion with four councillors in favour, and councillor Colleen Ross against the motion.
The restaurant has been confirmed as Tim Hortons, with an Esso gas station and convenience store adjoining.
Ross spoke out against the development, noting that while job creation is important, the Sustainable Community Plan needs to raise the bar for development and she hopes for a new, more ambitious standard for sustainability in future.
“I’m really excited abut the possibility of economic development in our city and I know there is a lot of excitement out there about it in the community, [but] … I don’t think it has been well-enough considered,” Ross said. “I am not going to vote in favour of this development simply because I believe that by voting in favour I am voting against my own values.”
Mayor Frank Konrad fired back, arguing that city councillors are elected to fight for the best interests of the city.
“We are elected to represent the community and that is at the forefront,” Konrad said. “We are not trading on our values or selling our souls to the devil. It has been long long overdue for Grand Forks to get some development.”
Ross later said that while she respects the values of her colleagues, she felt it would be a betrayal of those who elected her to vote against her values.
The planner working with the development, David Smith, highlighted the sustainability features in the development, noting that the project will use Xeriscaping and LED lighting. In future, the developer is considering the possibility of adding an electric car charging station.
The development will also include alternate exiting so cars won’t turn onto 25th Street.
Councillor Christine Thompson said the site is an important amenity for tourists, and will help the community in the longer-term.
“Unfortunately for people travelling through, there is nowhere for them to get a cup of coffee or get something small to eat if they are travelling after 9 o’clock,” Thompson said. “I am excited and I am thrilled. It shows that we are moving forward.”
Councillor Julia Butler said she wants to see something more original in the development, but supports the proposed landscaping for the site.
“One thing I would like to see in this development is something unique to Grand Forks, something that makes this not another gas station in just another town,” Butler said.
The plan will now be sent to the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for approvals. Chief Administrative Officer Doug Allin said that process is extensive, but it could be a matter of weeks before approval.
The developer is expecting to have the project completed by the time snow falls.