The second development phase of a proposed Hemkund Developments project would see the existing building at 534 Main St., Sicamous, be transformed to host food and beverage businesses. (Zachary Roman-Eagle Valley News)

The second development phase of a proposed Hemkund Developments project would see the existing building at 534 Main St., Sicamous, be transformed to host food and beverage businesses. (Zachary Roman-Eagle Valley News)

Sicamous chamber, residents fear fast food franchise development would hurt district

Chamber doesn’t want to see district become ‘merely a highway traffic stop’

A proposed gas bar, and accompanying developments, are fuelling discussion about development on Main Street in Sicamous.

On Oct. 15, the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce submitted a letter to Sicamous council in opposition to proposed developments on 530 and 534 Main St. — which may include two fast food establishments, a gas bar, convenience store, sit-in restaurant, and later, a hotel.

The chamber said it wanted to encourage meaningful and creative discussions regarding the proposed development and how it would impact Sicamous.

“This development permit application seeks to build franchised drive-thru restaurants that, by their very nature, diminish the growing culinary culture developing in Sicamous,” wrote chamber president Victoria Cameron. “The concern is this proposal will have a direct negative downstream effect for the community, such as restaurants closing in the shoulder seasons which will increase unemployment… and create the appearance that Sicamous is merely a highway traffic stop and not a destination.”

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The development permit application, from Hemkund Developments, will be on the council meeting agenda of Oct. 27, after being discussed extensively at district planning and development committee meetings three times; on July 14, Sept. 22 and Oct. 13.

The planning and development committee was split on recommending the development permit be issued. Committee members Brian Anderson and Coun. Gord Bushell voted no, while Deb Heap and Coun. Jeff Mallmes voted yes.

Multiple Sicamous residents submitted letters to council for the Oct. 27 meeting. Dawn and Paul Backs said the development is in contravention of Sicamous’ official community plan — an opinion the chamber also stated in its letter.

“Does Sicamous want to be a carbon copy of every other community along the Trans-Canada Highway, with nothing to entice travelers to visit the downtown core?” wrote Dawn.

Ian Baillie runs two Sicamous restaurants: G&G Kitchen and Tap and the Narrows Smokehouse. He wrote to council and said allowing the developments will take Sicamous down the wrong path.

“In the past year we have had four new restaurants or food trucks open up in town, all of them offer unique small town experiences, all are locally owned. If we fill our highway with gas bars, convenience stores and fast food drive-thrus, I can assure you not all the current businesses operating in town will make it,” wrote Baillie.

Both Baillie and the chamber raised concerns with the traffic study provided with Hemkund Developments’ permit application. Among them, that the study wasn’t done during peak season.

District of Sicamous staff are recommending council issue Hemkund Developments a permit for “the development of the service and repair establishment phase of the development, consisting of a gas bar and canopy, paving, parking, waste storage enclosure, and landscaping,” according to a report from Sarah Martin, district planner. This phase of development would be at 530 Main St.

The report states the developer has elected to split development into phases, as there are contaminated site requirements which still need to be met for 534 Main St. A gas station was located there until 1989.

The second development phase will see the existing building at 534 Main St. be transformed to host food and beverage businesses. Hemkund Developments also seeks to build a 40 to 50 room hotel and parkade on the northwest corner of 530 Main Street in the future.

Read more: KFC, Burger King proposed for Main Street in Sicamous

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