Triple O’s drive-thru given go-ahead, despite reservations

Blue and Braun lukewarm about proposal, but happy about long-term plans for property

The city will allow a vacant building to be renovated and house a Triple O’s drive-thru restaurant, as long as the changes better incorporate the building into the local streetscape.

The issuance of development permits and variances like those requested by the building owner are relatively common, but the proposal gives insight into how city staff and council may attempt to guide the development of Abbotsford’s newly defined city centre over the coming years.

The Official Community Plan envisions South Fraser Way as an “urban boulevard” with multi-storey buildings with a mix of residential and commercial on the ground floor. But the design of the now-vacant restaurant building, which used to house a KFC, and the surrounding lot evokes 1980s and ’90s era planning. The frontage of the building – located on South Fraser Way just east of Gladwin Road – is being used to showcase cars with an adjacent Volkswagen dealership.

When the project first came before council last month, both Mayor Henry Braun and Coun. Sandy Blue said they were unenthused when first seeing the proposal, but were pleased that the owner of the building has “longer-term aspirations” for the site.

The owner of the would-be Triple O’s also owns the Volkswagen dealership, and has “larger and grander aspirations,” according to Darren Braun, the city’s director of development and planning. The Volkswagen dealership is eventually bound for the auto mall, he said.

Blue and the mayor both said they don’t like drive-thrus in the city centre, with Braun saying council should re-evaluate its policy on the car-friendly restaurants. But apparently swayed by the news that the site would eventually be redeveloped, they and their fellow councillors voted to allow the drive-thru to begin operating.

Staff will also require the operators to incorporate pedestrian-friendly landscape features and sidewalk along the front of the building.

Several councillors also expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed continual use of the sign, which is currently existing on the site, with Braun saying “I think we have way too much sign pollution on SFW.”

But a motion that would have required the removal of the sign was withdrawn after concerns were raised that the city would be seen to be acting inconsistently; a redeveloped Wendy’s location had been permitted to use an existing sign following a recent renovation.