Counties debate Winchester A&W traffic study

SDG – A new fast-food franchise may be coming to Winchester soon, but the development is causing some headaches at SDG Counties council.

SDG councillors heard a motion from Councillor Tony Fraser (North Dundas), at the end of their March 15th meeting, asking the counties to not make a traffic study part of the project’s site control agreement. The North Dundas members of counties council are concerned that details from the traffic study could potentially delay the restaurant development.

Transportation and Planning Services director Ben deHaan said the company proposing to build a new A&W restaurant at the Foodland/Tim Hortons plaza is conducting a traffic study.

“What we propose is to come back to council with the findings of that report,” deHaan said. “Then council can have a good discussion of what’s appropriate verses not appropriate to require the developer to do to continue with the build of their facility.”

Fraser argued that a traffic study should have no bearing on County Road 3 as the plaza has been in place for nearly 20 years and already has a busy Tim Hortons location.

“I suggest that A&W is able to submit the traffic study for future reference,” he told council. “There is much development to take place in North Dundas.”

Fraser spoke of the Wellings development on the south side of the road, and potential housing developments as well.

“In five-to-seven years there is more than likely going to be big changes in that area and at that time we look at all the big changes and it’s dealt with at that time.”

Councillor Steven Byvelds (South Dundas) said that this would set a precedent going forward that he was not comfortable with.

“We need to fully understand the implications of any kind of development,” Byvelds said. “If we want to start looking forward down the road, the whole stretch of County Road 3 from the urban boundary of Winchester to County Road 31 I see more issues.”

He explained that what the county needs to figure out is who is responsible for paying for upgrades. Byvelds cited the rapid expansion of County Road 43 in Kemptville which needs to be upgraded to four lanes due to the development buildup.

“We need to be forward thinking and figure out who does what.”

Councillor Allan Armstrong (North Dundas) countered that the project should not be held up by defining fairness.

“I humbly submit that if our pursuit was ‘fairness’ to every scenario that comes up I think we may all just as well stop having Zoom meetings and just stay at home and throw darts against the wall to see how our points gather. Fairness is so subjective.”

The contentious wrangling about setting a precedent for future development went on for over 30 minutes before council broke for a short recess.

Council reconvened and Fraser’s original motion was withdrawn. It was replaced with a motion that directed county staff to “provide no comment with respect to improvements on County Road 3” relating to the traffic study.

Council approved the new motion however The Leader is unable to report if there were any dissenting votes. County Council meetings are held virtually due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Due to the nature of the meeting, the public, including reporters, are unable to see individual voting. No recorded vote was taken, nor reported by council.

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