Supersize NIMBY

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A new year brings new beginnings.

In Aurora this includes a brand new McDonalds located at the corner of Bayview Avenue and Pedersen Drive.

The restaurant opened its doors before Christmas with Mayor La-de-Dawe and two members of council dropping in for a photo-op captured on page 3 of the December 24th 2015 edition of the Auroran.

With exception of Swiss Chalet our family does not patronize fast food chains, a challenge given the strong marketing towards my daughters’ age group but as they had received gift cards we ventured over to the new store to see what all the fuss was about.

What a fuss indeed.

Back in September of 2014 this McDonalds was poised to locate in a plaza planned for the North East corner of Bayview and St. Johns Sideroad.

The Banner reported on a resident who was knocking on doors in the existing houses west and south of the planned plaza hoping to gain support in protesting it.

The objection is supposedly not to the McDonalds or the plaza itself but changing the zoning to allow a drive-thru. Yet in the article the resident contradicts herself by citing the smell of greasy food as well as loiterers milling about in the parking lot at all hours as specific items that will have a negative impact on neighbours quality of life.

First off neither of these have anything to do with a drive-thru.

Secondly the lady that has spent 2 years door knocking on neighbours doors resides on Reynolds crescent a significant distance from the proposed plaza and any smells or potential loitering.

This NIMBY group successfully stopped a McDonalds drive-thru at this location but it was likely a hard victory to swallow given the location at Bayview Avenue and Pedersen Drive is even closer to this resident.

Irony, supersized.

Leading the NIMBY charge against this new location was a different resident in this April 9th 2015 Era Banner piece

The article starts off stating this resident is considering putting her home up for sale, which would be understandable if the McDonalds was being located immediately across the street but is ridiculous when you discover she resides on Blaydon Lane separated from the site by over 2 streets.

She’s correct that McDonald’s locations usually aren’t “plopped” right beside a row of houses, and that isn’t the case here.

Right beside the McDonalds to the west is industrial. To the north is commercial, including an LCBO and Beer Store, and to the south is another commercial strip plaza featuring 5 restaurants complete with its
own drive-through.

The only residential is to the East separated by Bayview Avenue.

The town’s director of planning sums it up well by stating “Bayview is a commercial corridor and with the current restaurants and commercial uses around it, it is a suitable site for this development.”

The NIMBY concerns listed are consistent with the previous location: greasy odours and attracting people who hang out in parking lots. This resident even acknowledges the other restaurants in the area (Pizza
Nova, a Sushi restaurant, Mediterranean Bar & Grill, Crabby Joes and a Starbucks) but claims none emit the same odours as a fast food restaurant.

In the April 9th 2015 Auroran the same resident is quoted as saying their home is located 400 meters from the site. When I went to investigate Google Maps reported 550 meters, but what was more interesting than the distance separating the McDonalds from the house in question that this resident was so ready to abandon, is that one of the 2 streets that separates them is a crescent that serves as a visual and noise barrier.

This McDonalds is not in their backyard at all!

What is in this resident’s backyard is $25,000 worth of landscaping but they are concerned that the smell of grease will now prevent them from enjoying it. Add to that the resident’s perceived drop in property value and that they don’t want “any further commercial traffic going through there”.

You chose to live close to Bayview, just as close to the aforementioned businesses that contribute to litter, noise pollution and “loitering youth”. WTF did you think that land was going to become, a park?

If you have two young children and they like to walk on the sidewalks and bike and you’re concerned about the commercial traffic in a commercial corridor how about stepping up your parenting and suggesting they head a mere 220 meters west to Thompson Park instead? Or considering your location why not 500 meters west where there is a connection to the Arboretum and trail system? Both closer than the dreaded McDonalds.

Also closer to the resident is Optimist Park which is adjacent to two local elementary schools.

This seemed to be an issue to one teacher who informed council that she spends a lot of her day talking about healthy initiatives, healthy eating and trying to promote healthy eating in young children.

“Obesity is a problem and what do we do? We put a McDonald’s right in the middle of a subdivision.”

Again, the McDonalds is not in the middle of a subdivision, so I hope when this teacher isn’t consumed with promoting healthy eating she isn’t teaching the subject of Geography.

If the existence of a fast food restaurant in a commercial corridor is all it takes to undo days upon days of talking about healthy initiatives and healthy eating then one has to question the confidence in how
effectively what, and how these subjects are being taught.

Healthy eating is a choice.

Eating at a McDonalds is a choice, as pointed out in Anna’s rational and expertly written April 11th, 2015 piece here

Unlike Anna’s our family doesn’t choose McDonalds for our own reasons. Before this week I think the last time I was in one was over 2 years ago, and this most recent visit did nothing to win me over.

The layout is poorly designed, causing huge traffic issues as soon as one enters the doors.

Waste & Recycling is poorly marked and the entire place smelled like a urinal.

Only one cashier was on staff which created a line at least a dozen deep, and the wait time pushed out beyond 15 minutes. A couple kiosks were placed, one had an out of order sign and I didn’t see a single person use them during our dine in experience.

When it came time to pay the staff were perplexed when we attempted to hand them the gift cards, not coupons but gift cards (essentially cash) informing us that they couldn’t accept them because they weren’t set up for that.

How is it that the owner of this McDonalds opened their doors before testing something as simple as processing one of their own gift cards?

Even though I won’t be back I wish them the best in working out their many issues.

Upon leaving I couldn’t help but notice the significant change in elevation from Bayview using the street as a barrier for the residents on the East side to smells, additional traffic and loitering.

Looking to council to waive a magic wand to deny a fast food restaurant from locating in a commercially zoned area from which residential is shielded through proper land use planning is the very definition of
NIMBY but the prize in this super unhappy meal has to be the teacher doing her best Helen Lovejoy impression.

What and where we eat are choices.

Question those choices.

If you have children by all means have them question theirs, but if this is already bing pounded into their heads daily at school keep it simple.

Start by remembering NIMBY : Not In My Big Yap.

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