London, Ont. Council votes to allow commercial development on flood plain

File photo. Global News

London, Ont., city council voted Tuesday to allow a commercial development, including a drive-thru McDonald’s, in the northeast part of the city prone to heavy flooding.

With a vote of 10-5, council endorsed the plan to put a 5000-square-foot multi-use commercial building at the corner of Adelaide St. N. and Windermere Ave.

The area lies on a flood plain and has experienced extreme flooding in the past.

“We know from a historic fact that this area is flood prone,” said Ward 6 Coun. Sam Trosow

“We’ve got the pictures, we’ve heard the testimony, it is not speculative to say that you are incurring a danger to public safety if you build this type of facility on a flood plain.”

Royal Premier Development, who submitted the planning application, has suggested drainage improvements around the site to include drainage, including a naturalized channel and special landscaping.

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Ward 11 Coun. Skylar Franke, who voted against the approval, feels approving a drive-thru on a flood plain is not a good planning decision.

“Buying this piece of land and trying to develop, it was always a gamble, and I don’t think it’s a gamble that is going to or should pay off,” she said.

“We know this area floods pretty much every single year and floods significantly. I do think that this area will flood, and this development will be eventually underwater.”

A shot of the 2018 flood in the area of Adelaide and Windermere. London Police/Youtube

Concerns have been raised about the intensity a drive-thru McDonald’s would bring to the lot.

Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis says it comes down to a matter of opinion that comes down to if a drive-thru would be more intense than just a parking lot.

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“It’s why we have people on our staff, professionally accredited individuals who are consulting for the applicant, because it is subjective,” Lewis said.

“There are good planning practices around a drive-thru…where the drive-thru is contained on site and has a single entrance access point with all other vehicles going on site, so it minimizes traffic impacts.”

Lewis added that because the plot is privately owned, it’s not up to the city as to what goes on it.

“We don’t get to judge whether we like a McDonald’s or a Tim Hortons or a dry cleaner or a subway or whatever the tenant might be. That’s up to the landowner and the tenants that they want to lease out to.”

Councillors Franke, David Ferreira, Anna Hopkins, Trosow, and Mayor Morgan opposed approving the application. All others voted to approve.

An amendment to the original proposal, submitted by Ward 5 Coun. Jerry Pribil, decreased the number of units on the property from five to three.

The application can still be vetoed by the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. If denied, the developer will have to go through a separate appeal process that doesn’t involve council.

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