Council has given its approval for the expansion of a New Waterford business that will include a second gas bar for the former coal mining community.
Duke Fraser, owner of the Robin’s franchise and convenience store on Emerald Street, asked Cape Breton Regional Municipality council to amend its land-use bylaw to allow for the expansion and addition of a six-pump motor vehicle fuel service.
Fraser’s successful amendment application means he can now proceed to the next phase of the initiative which involves meeting and securing a number of provincial approvals. Following council’s unanimous vote to approve the amendment, Fraser allowed himself a brief and barely discernable fist pump.
But his application did not get a free ride through at city hall.
OPPOSITION TO PROJECT
During the public hearing part of the process, which took place during Tuesday’s regional council meeting, the owners of an adjacent property took the opportunity to convey their adamant opposition to the project.
“We support growth and development in New Waterford, but when it came to our attention that Mr. Fraser was looking to have the bylaw amended to have motor vehicle fuel service, to say that we were shocked and appalled is an understatement,” said Jillian Roper-LeMoine, who with wife Jennifer LeMoine, resides next door to the existing store and drive-thru.
“Our first concern is the impact that having a fuelling station in our backyard will have on our health as the gas pumps will be located just 100 feet from our property and that’s quite simply too close. It is unacceptable for a municipality to amend an existing bylaw written to protect a residential community in order to expose its residents to dangerous emissions.”
After Roper-LeMoine’s well-articulated 10-minute presentation, council debated the issue for some time before ultimately deciding that the health concerns cited by Roper-LeMoine are under the jurisdiction of the province and that such concerns would be dealt with at the next level of regulatory approvals.
Ironically, it was just 18 months ago that Fraser was one of several New Waterford business people who expressed concern that the pending closure of the community’s hospital could have a detrimental effect on their operations.
However, he said the province’s plan to build a community hub that will include a new health centre, school and long-term care facility not far from his business helped change his perspective.
“It now looks like they have a plan and it looks like we have a timeline, so let’s move forward,” said Fraser.
“I believe this community deserves new investment — there are good people out there who deserve to have some new investments in their community.”
The project plan calls for the retail building to be moved further back on the lot to allow for the installation of underground gas tanks and the construction of the gas bar. The new setup will include a 2,200 square-foot convenience store and a 1,000 square-foot Robin’s Donuts that will also maintain its existing drive-thru.
Presently, the only fuel pumps in the New Waterford area are located next to the Sobeys and on the highway in nearby River Ryan.