Big Macs, McMinimalist design: Port Hardy approves first-ever McDonald’s with a catch

Big Macs, McMinimalist design: Port Hardy approves first-ever McDonald's with a catch

The first-ever McDonald’s north of Campbell River is coming to Port Hardy — but you won’t find it by looking for that iconic, instantly recognizable sign.

At an April 11 council meeting, District of Port Hardy councillors were “lovin’ it” so much that they unanimously voted to approve the new McDonald’s restaurant for Granville Street, between Applewood Chevrolet Buick GMC and Co-op Gas Bar and across from Thunderbird Mall.

The restaurant, complete with a drive-thru, should blend right into the neighbourhood, according to Port Hardy Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Ross Blackwell.

“The types of materials utilized for the cladding are a combination of warm colours as well as a cleaner, more modern look, which I think will be good for the location,” said Blackwell. “It will not be out of keeping with any of the structures in this location.”

(Screenshot: District of Port Hardy)

Only passersby won’t see the golden arches, with updated design plans omitting the fast-food chain’s signature street-side monument signage.  

“That’s the right thing to do in a location like this…A monument sign advertising McDonald’s is not necessary in this location. There will be enough other signage on the building to convey what the store is,” noted Blackwell.

“I think that’s a very big deviation for McDonald’s, and I acknowledge them for being receptive with regards to the design program…to allow this project to better attempt to [fit] its location.”

Councillors like Patricia Corbett-Labatt applauded this decision.

“I really appreciate hearing about the sign and going from 12 feet to six feet to nothing. When I drove down, and I was looking at the other signs that are up there, and I thought, ‘Oh, okay, well, if it’s six feet, it could kinda go,'” said Corbett-Labatt.

“Like, Home Hardware’s got that big sign, and Chevron and Co-Op, they’ve all got these big signs. But McDonald’s kind of stands out on its own, too, so that’s great that they’re willing to do that.”

Meanwhile, Coun. Janet Dorward voiced concerns about pedestrian safety since the restaurant will likely attract many on-foot customers.

“The nearest pedestrian crossing is about 120 metres south…and at the top of Granville and Douglas, we don’t have a way to cross to that side of the street,” said Dorward.

“I feel like there will be substantial pedestrian traffic there, and people are going to J-walk. It’s a bit of a blind corner coming down the hill (for drivers). We don’t want people crossing there. If there’s some way we can resolve.”

Blackwell says he’s looking into how the district can address these worries.

“I’ll continue to do what I can to work on making that happen,” he said.

“It’s nothing that can be dealt with directly in the context of this (development permit), but it is something that needs to be folded in…if we are intending to really have a walkable, safe community that is accessible by everybody, including the able-bodied and those who are not able-bodied.”

The restaurant should be open by fall, says Blackwell.

“This was a very energized effort to move this forward. They have an ambitious construction schedule.”

Find the staff report here.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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