Op/Ed: Tim Horton’s question percolates through Nelson council candidates
“We don’t have a Timmy’s in Nelson” I told the guy pouring my double-single behind the counter, “and my friend here had me up at the crack of dawn to get down here.”
“Well there’s one coming ‘atcha soon” he replied.
A few minutes later the same gentleman came over to our table to elaborate.
“I’m the owner of this place” he said, and told us how the company hoped to be on its way to opening a Tim Horton’s in Nelson within a year, and some of the sites they were considering.
“Well that’s interesting” I thought, especially considering that it’s election time.
So I sent out a question to City Council and Mayoral candidates asking for their thoughts on a Tim Horton’s opening in town.
Here’s what I received in return:
Anna Purcell is against the idea.
“I’m in favor of retaining our excellent and increasingly rare independent business culture” she said, “and would vote against, for example, amending any existing regulations that prohibit drive throughs.”
Jeff Shecter thinks it is a good idea.
“I’m not against anyone who wants to invest in Nelson and create employment” he said.
Charles Jeanes was enthusiastic about choice.
“I am absolutely opposed to the dictates by a cultural ‘elite’ of what franchise chains will be allowed in ‘our uniquely-special, higher-consciousness Nelson’ — when they have no idea what other people (who are not like them) enjoy and want access to” he said.
“A visit to the popular food court at the Mall or A&W in the morning might open the eyes of the holier-than-thou crowd to the narrowness of their minds and the suffocation of the rest of us by the tyranny of correctness.”
Both Robin Cherbo and John Dooley did not offer an opinion, saying they were not aware of any current application.
“I don’t think we need Tim’s.” said Deb Kozak.
“Nelson has a lot of great coffee shops, tea shops, cafes, restaurants and has a reputation as a community that encourages entrepreneurs. I also think that the people who work in our coffee shops dress as they like, earn better wages and create a vibe. All of this attracts interest, creates energy and brings people to our community. Those are good things.”
“I know it’s become a staple in many places and it’s not my business to judge what people like,” she added.
Jason Peil is solidly against.
“Nelson’s small independent business community- which includes a number of coffee shops – pay a lot of taxes. We could close three shops by bringing in a single chain store. Do we want to be Castlegar? Each town is unique. Let’s not give up our independence”
Bob Adams likes the idea “. . . although it would be rather difficult at this time unless they had a stand-alone store with no drive thru as our bylaws do not allow drive thru stores.”
John Paolozzi is emphatically opposed, and even had a draft blog post on the subject crafted within minutes of receiving the question.
“All you have to do to know that this is not right for Nelson is read any of the travel pieces written about this community,” he said.
“All of them talk about how unique Nelson is. Some even going so far as to note how few chains there are. Bring a chain in, and you spoil that. If we want a doughnut shop (and I do personally), it should be locally owned and operated.”
Michael Dailly said that he supports sustainable/local food systems including coffee shops and was clear that “this would not include Tim Horton’s”.
Valerie Warmington is ‘personally opposed’ but added “if elected to Council I would need more community and other input before confirming a position.”
“Based on what I understand currently, the few low-paying jobs that this large (soon to be foreign-owned) chain might contribute to our community would not offset the franchise-related flow of revenues out of Nelson, or the threat the franchise represents to our unique, locally-owned cafes and restaurants which further support our community by offering locally-produced goods.”
So does local government work to craft and protect City character or should it prioritize all kinds of economic development?
It seems to be a question inciting opinions as diverse as Nelson’s coffee scene.
Bruce Edson, host of The EcoCentric heard on the Kootenay Co-op Radio, occasionally writes for The Nelson Daily.