Downtown Bureau

King/Dundurn Shoppers Drug Mart Plan Moves to OMB

On Wednesday evening, 25 to 30 residents of the Strathcona neighbourhood gathered to hear about the proposed development of the Shoppers Drug Mart location at the North East corner of King and Dundurn.

By Jason Allen
Published March 21, 2014

On Wednesday evening, 25 to 30 residents of the Strathcona neighbourhood gathered to hear about the proposed development of the Shoppers Drug Mart location at the North East corner of King and Dundurn. Councillor Brian McHattie kicked off the evening by introducing Matt Johnstone and IBI Group, the design contractors for Shoppers, who gave a short summary of the development.

Proposed new Shoppers Drug Mart on King at Dundurn
Proposed new Shoppers Drug Mart on King at Dundurn

In August of 2013, the initial design was submitted for an 8000+ sq. ft. Shoppers, with an additional four-storey, 27-unit apartment building to be located behind the Shoppers, facing onto Head Street to the North. There was considerable neighbourhood concern over the plan.

The concerns raised sent IBI back to the drawing board, but the delays caused by the redesign meant that the redevelopment would now be restricted by the new Strathcona secondary plan, which was about to be approved by council.

As a result, IBI chose to take the development proposal to the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) under Shoppers Drug Mart's direction. The OMB appeal addresses provisions in four different planning and zoning regulations, and was launched once the provincially mandated time limit for the city to respond to the original rezoning request had expired.

Although a developer is not required to appeal to the OMB once this deadline expires, and indeed many recent development proposals in Ward 1 in the past few years have not done so, Shoppers chose to appeal immediately.

Johnstone explained that the entire design process had been constrained by the existing long-term, renewable lease held by the Tim Hortons drive through, which gave them guaranteed street level visibility from King.

Further compounding the design was the no-truck restriction on Dundurn, requiring delivery vehicles for the enlarged Shoppers to enter from King, unload, and then turn around to exit back onto King.

Take-It-Or-Leave-It

With all of these restrictions in place, IBI presented the proposal that is now before the OMB. Unfortunately, due to the nature of OMB appeals, it meant that the proposal being presented to residents on Monday night was essentially a take it or leave it proposition, with Johnstone stating on several occasions that the only alternative to IBI's design was to leave the property as it is now.

Overhead site plan
Overhead site plan

The design itself is for the Tim Hortons to move to the front of the lot, just behind the popular bus stop on King and Dundurn. It would be surrounded by a small landscaped area with possible benches and trees to improve the streetscape.

The drive-through would be behind it, with vehicles still entering from King, and winding up past the Shoppers entrance to begin queueing for their coffees.

Dominating the plan is the 62-vehicle parking lot that would be at the front of the 17,000 sq. ft. two-storey Shoppers facing onto King Street. The driveway from King would be moved further east, and the driveway onto Dundurn moved further North, which would line up directly with Hunt Street on the other side.

The Shoppers itself would have a mezzanine level for office space for the store along with storage. The loading dock would be located at the front of the store on the East side of the building, due to the no-truck restriction on Dundurn, a feature that was described as highly unusual.

At the back of the property would be eight townhouses facing on to Head Street, with garages at ground level, and a second and third floor living space.

Townhouse condos on Head Street
Townhouse condos on Head Street

Unusual for this arrangement, and possibly unique to Hamilton, would be the presence of a "backyard amenity," a deck or patio, that would be accessed from the second floor of the townhouses and located on the roof of the Shoppers. As such, the townhouses would be condominiums, and would share a rear wall with the retail store.

Community Frustration with Process

After the initial presentation, various residents spoke. Strathcona Community Council executive member Jennifer Dawson described her frustration at the process, feeling that community voices had been shut out by Shoppers appeal to the OMB.

She reminded the audience that the Strathcona Secondary plan had come about after years of consultation with residents.

At this point, McHattie and Edward John from planning stepped in to say that they were continuing to work with IBI on the fine details of the plan, in the hopes that minor improvements could be agreed upon.

Dawson also expressed reservations about the driveway on Dundurn aligning with Hunt Street. Her concern, echoed by many there, was that Tim Hortons customers would simply race across Dundurn and down Hunt. This increased traffic would then access Hwy 403 at Breadalbane and King, the location of a two-way bike lane that has already seen a number of serious accidents.

Some residents also expressed their disapproval of the modern look and feel of the town homes in a neighbourhood that dates from the late 1800s.

Others asked questions about increased traffic on residential streets such as Strathcona Avenue and New Street as shoppers tried to navigate their way from the Dundurn Fortinos back to Shoppers to complete their errands.

Closer to Neighbourhood Wishes

While many in attendance had concerns, several residents on Head Street expressed support for the Shoppers design itself, and congratulated IBI on the work they had done to bring the design closer to what the neighbourhood would have wanted.

Several residents then suggested ideas on how to improve the development, prompting Johnstone to repeat again that because the proposal was before the OMB, not much was possible in the way of changes to the design.

Closing up the meeting, Councillor McHattie asked for feedback on the design to be emailed either to him, or to the Strathcona Community Council. He requested specific feedback that he could consider in deciding whether or not to ask the city to oppose or support the design at the OMB.

Edward John from planning also explained that only residents who had already written to the city with concerns over the development would be able to request participant status for the pre-hearing Aril 7. Any community members who had expressed concerns to the city, in writing, in the past were welcome to show up on the 7 and request to be part of the process.

Jason Allen is a chronic hive whacker in the Kirkendall Neighbourhood.

64 Comments

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By CDH (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 09:02:36

Thank goodness for the OMB... Despite it's murky ways, it really saves this province from excessive nimbyism, something I bet most North American cities are extremely jealous of. Looks like a nice plan to me.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 25, 2014 at 13:07:09 in reply to Comment 98779

who doesn't love a giant parking lot on prime urban land....

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By oldcoote (registered) | Posted March 25, 2014 at 11:53:24 in reply to Comment 98779

Some might argue the OMB allows developers to push past local opposition.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 09:19:39

Looks like a great plan to me! Let's make it happen...enough with "Nimby-ism"...much better than what's there now...and will actually help improve Strathcona!

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 25, 2014 at 13:08:59 in reply to Comment 98784

Let's make a trade. You can take the 62 space parking lot and big box store and drive thru, we'll take the 15 storey condo being proposed in Durand that you're neighbourhood is all up in arms about.
We'll see if we can get a retail space on the ground floor of the condo building, facing King.

It's a win-win. You get rid of hundreds of new residents in a new condo and you get the giant parking lot and drive-thru that will improve Durand.

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 09:32:19

I was optimistic when I looked at the elevation - the form looks relatively urban. Then I looked at the plan and saw that there is a sea of parking in front of the Shoppers!!! Very disappointing to have such a suburban-style development at an important corner location on the edge of downtown.

Imagine how much better this would be if they were creating a continuous streetwall along King. Shoppers was able to achieve this (somewhat) on King St in Dundas. It's sad that regulatory restrictions appear to be preventing that from even being an option here.

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2014 at 10:03:11 in reply to Comment 98787

Just to clarify: Regulatory restrictions would have REQUIRED just what you're asking for - the continuous streetwall - specifically the Strathcona Secondary plan. It was the Tim Hortons lease that prevented it.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2014 at 09:43:06

You can't tell me that Tim Horton's stocks their old-city Toronto locations with 18-wheeler transport trucks.

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By lunky (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 15:04:59 in reply to Comment 98790

18 wheelers? No, but they do have box trucks who love to park in bike lanes. Sometimes they even park on the sidewalk.

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2014 at 10:01:00 in reply to Comment 98790

No, but Shoppers does.

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By grahamm (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 09:54:25

That parking lot is going to be a mess. The entrance to the Shoppers is right where cars aiming for the drive thru will be turning. It's not great how it is now, but having the cars that are not going to Shoppers pass right by the front door of the Shoppers is going to create endless conflicts.

Fortino's plaza anyone? Cars headed for parking spaces should pass by front doors.

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By anjoman (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 10:00:25

The trucking ban seems problematic to me. It basically means that no business that requires deliveries could ever open on that street, regardless of how appropriate or desirable that business is to the local residents. I understand the desire to stop trucks from using your neighborhood as a shortcut, but this is a bad side effect. Local trucking is one of the most efficient uses of roadways.

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By Ask tim (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 12:44:06

Surely Tim Hortons would revisit its lease in the interest of community building or at least not community destroying???

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 23:08:27 in reply to Comment 98843

hahahahahahahahahaha

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2014 at 12:53:21 in reply to Comment 98843

They will not. They were approached by both the city and the developpers to see if they would reconsider their requirement for both street visibility from King, and a drive through, and the answer was no.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 21, 2014 at 13:36:38 in reply to Comment 98844

A drive-through Tim's on King is a license to print money. Every commuter heading out to the 403 is going to swing by on their way to the onramp. I'm not really surprised they're not going to back down on that point.

At least with the double-wide queue the line might not back out to the street the way the one on Main does.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 23:09:47 in reply to Comment 98853

but make note, they could still keep their drive-thru, but allow the Shoppers store to be built at the sidewalk. They've only uttered one word the past 2 years to every single question, suggestion or offer made to them by the community: No

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By jonathan (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 17:29:33 in reply to Comment 98853

Not every commuter. The smart ones have discovered that the self-serve in the Esso station is considerably faster than that drive-thru.

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By Boycott tim (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 14:33:14

I'm boycotting Tim Hortons. But then again, I don't drink coffee anyway :)

Seriously though, its not in corporate interests to ruin the community's potential. Its the opposite of giving back to the very city that made this company.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2014 at 01:21:28 in reply to Comment 98860

^I like that idea. These particular drive through Tim Horton's are, by way of policy, anti-community. I recall walking over to this particular location only to pull on a locked door. I was surprised by the locked doors given that the establishment was open. The clerk mimed to me a car driving motion through the window which I took to mean that I could get service by car only. I mimed back a foot walking motion, and all I got was a disapproving nod. Their coffee is sub-par and most of the food is inedible. Consuming their products is really a matter of last resort for me.

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By Keith (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 15:38:15

So what does the community want exactly given the constraints that exist? It seems like a fairly reasonable and respectful design given the limitations and practicalities of the site.

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 23:14:20 in reply to Comment 98865

the main thing the community wanted was for both stores to face King with parking in the back. The new Shoppers at Main/Emerson is a great example. Would have been great to start to re-urbanize King.

I don't go to Hortons, but if I ever do, I'll be sure to not head to any owned by the couple who own this one. They were sitting in the front row literally laughing at us (the community) at the first public meeting about this topic a couple of years ago. They think it's a big laugh that we want walkable streets and neighbourhoods. We were suggesting street patio facing King/Dundurn, still keep the drive-thru, perhaps in a mixed-use building containing both Hortons, Shopper with condos above.

They sat there and giggled and laughed until someone finally blew their top and let them have it.
We asked them repeated questions for the 2.5 hours and they didn't say a single word. Just sat there ignoring everyone and everything that was going on.

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By fmurray (registered) | Posted March 22, 2014 at 12:51:51 in reply to Comment 98900

I don't often go to Tim Horton's but would like to avoid locations owned by this arrogant couple. Which locations do they own?

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted March 22, 2014 at 14:45:54 in reply to Comment 98933

westdale

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By highwater (registered) | Posted March 22, 2014 at 18:22:06 in reply to Comment 98940

Good to know. I don't go there often anyway, but this gives me a good reason to give it up altogether.

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By Groan (anonymous) | Posted March 21, 2014 at 22:28:54

I wish I knew what the spam words I'm using are. I feel like posting one word at a time to see what gets denied.
Don't get me wrong Ryan, I appreciate what you're up against and everything RTH provides for the community but can't find any rhyme or or reason to recent anon comment denials.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted March 22, 2014 at 00:02:52 in reply to Comment 98895

Honestly, just register an account. You can get disposable fake email accounts easily online if you want to protect your privacy. The spam-filter only applies to anonymous comments.

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By This sucks (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2014 at 00:23:46

Seriously, like Ryan, I can't understand how or why these Timmy owners should have their way with this drive thru. Like Ryan said we'll be stuck with this BS at a key intersection for decades. Anyone have a gamelan to stop this from happening?

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By Rimshot (anonymous) | Posted March 23, 2014 at 17:51:23 in reply to Comment 98904

"Anyone have a gamelan to stop this from happening?"

Try this one: youtube.com/watch?v=qIq8LNbYKT8

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 22, 2014 at 09:07:24

All consternation aside, I think it's important to now make sure that we get some very clear design requests added into this project.

I sent this to the Strathcona prez and McHattie the other night and they agreed we need to ensure it happens.

  1. Bike parking
  2. vegetation around the site and parking lot. And not just the useless strip of grass and two scrawny trees required by city staff. http://cdn3.pacifichorticulture.org/wp-c...

  3. Proper landscaped frontages on Head St that will enhance the street, not just pave it over. http://www.torontolife.com/wp-content/up...

I think I also differ from some at the meeting the other night in that I'd love to see modern town homes such as the ones pictured above. Faux heritage usually ends up being some of the worst architecture imaginable.

Some heritage features mixed with modern design can work, as is currently being built in Corktown: http://www.corktowns.ca/images/image19.j...

But the landscaping and street trees in front of Shoppers, on Dundurn and on Head are something the community can agree on and should push for.

Comment edited by jason on 2014-03-22 09:10:10

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted March 25, 2014 at 22:38:27 in reply to Comment 98922

Some heritage features mixed with modern design can work, as is currently being built in Corktown: http://www.corktowns.ca/images/image19.j...

Great shot there where most of the stucco is not visible. Here's a much better shot on this thread:

http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showthre...

This doesn't go with the rest of the neighbourhood. The ones being built over at Young and Catherine much better match the existing buildings.

So why is it that the city can't say no to a small coffee outlet? I'd like to know more about that since that is apparently why this redevelopment can't go forward. Also, would the Shoppers be 24 hours still or would it become another "open till midnight" location?

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By Observer (anonymous) | Posted March 22, 2014 at 16:13:06

It looks like they're building a parking lot, to me. It is a case, again, of designing for the automobile with suburban planning for an urban environment. It is disgraceful.

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By krist (registered) - website | Posted March 22, 2014 at 23:51:19

Thanks for the write up Jason A., this is an excellent summary of the meeting.

Jason L., I openly hinted that this location be targeted as a hub for the bike share, and Councillor McHattie echoed that others had this in mind as well.

I think that it is important that those who are insisting that this is nimbyism be informed that this is a development that residents were excited for. We wanted this to be an example of how mixed-use commercial space can be used as positive urban intensification. Instead, we're left with a gigantic parking lot-66 spaces. A parking lot that is designed to potentially steer traffic onto 2 quiet residential streets (Hunt and Breadlebane). The Tim Hortons driveway flows directly adjacent to Hunt Street in this design, which is everything our neighbours were against.

Shoppers knew this. They saw that the Strathcona Secondary Plan would deny this format of the development. They took it to the OMB so that it would remove the future potential of public input.

As for Tim Hortons, the franchisee also operates the Fortinos' Plaza sit-down restaurant. This is why they are unwilling to have this unit be sit-down. Forces our community to have to navigate a terrible intersection for pedestrians, King and Dundurn. At least my love for ice cream won't be bringing me into their store anymore (alas, I enjoyed the Coldstone Creamery too much).

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By jason (registered) | Posted March 23, 2014 at 09:31:39 in reply to Comment 98974

Good summary Krist, thx.

Couple of thoughts:

  1. Why do they need 66 parking spaces?? The new Shoppers on Main across from Mac looks to only have maybe 20ish.
  2. Somehow I missed this in all the months of discussion on this project, but how can their driveway lead to Hunt? Did they but the homes on Dundurn?? So, now we're losing part of the residential street wall on Dundurn for parking lots and a driveway??

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By KevinLove (registered) | Posted March 23, 2014 at 12:30:35 in reply to Comment 98999

The number of car parking spaces they need is zero. This is an urban environment. Walking, cycling and public transit provide all the transportation needed.

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 24, 2014 at 13:10:09 in reply to Comment 99005

Zero? Really? So when I want to go get prescriptions from Bay South, I should walk or take the bus?!? Come on!

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By dandruff (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2014 at 13:57:07 in reply to Comment 99084

Or you could go to the drug store one block away on Caroline and Herkimer, which doesn't have any parking and seems to do okay. Or you could go to the multiple drug stores a couple blocks away on James, which don't have any parking and seem to dookay.

Guess what? We're in a city! Not everywhere has to have it's own parking lot!

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By durander (registered) | Posted March 24, 2014 at 15:53:36 in reply to Comment 99085

Awesome...I'll go at 8 o'clock when I get home...oh no, wait...because it's not a busy store, it closes early...so i'll take the ever convenient off-peak HSR...

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted March 24, 2014 at 12:44:49 in reply to Comment 99005

Are we talking about practical needs, or city-mandated parking requirements?

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By krist (registered) - website | Posted March 23, 2014 at 11:17:25

Jason,

  1. The Shoppers at Main and Emmerson is of substantially less square footage. I believe they don't have a pharmacy, or a post office.

This new, 17000 square foot unit will no longer have a drive through - which is what they will probably use to justify increased parking. With the additional square footage and much larger delivery bay, I assume they will be applying to Canada Post to increase their net reach of package delivery. I have no clue how that system works, this is all assumption.

  1. The site concept was submitted July 11, 2013, to the City's planning department. I believe that it was unclear at our meeting with Brian in October if they had actually purchased the homes on Dundurn that will have to be demolished. Estimating from the site concept, I believe we're going to see three homes knocked down.

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By hshields (registered) - website | Posted March 25, 2014 at 15:47:29

  1. Like most urban planning issues it comes down to parking. It looks like this re-designed plaza is increasing surface parking in the face of greater density requirements. How will these two forces manage to live together?

  2. What ever happened to the re-design efforts of Dundurn Plaza across the street? Is this a preview of what we should expect from OMB and parking issues?

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By what would you do (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2014 at 19:16:23 in reply to Comment 99128

If you owned this land, what would you do given the way people move around this City? Given it is a commercial property and you want people to come to it, would you want parking?

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By Don't Be Silly (anonymous) | Posted March 26, 2014 at 19:28:20 in reply to Comment 99193

What a stupid question. This land should have been expropriated for public housing.

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By Nearby Neighbour (anonymous) | Posted April 02, 2014 at 14:13:54

Am I the only one depressed by the design of the town houses? I really don't like the idea of looking at those ugly cubes and the fact that the houses already there have to be destroyed for it makes me even more sad.

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