Skip to content

CITY COUNClL: What you need to know about Monday's meeting

Cathy Dobson NEIGHBOURS IN DISBELIEF DRIVE-THROUGH IS APPROVED Residents of a 12-storey condo at 10 Derby Lane say they left city hall “shocked” Monday after council approved rezoning that permits a new drive-through at a Harvey’s restaurant about 40
City Hall
City Hall

Cathy Dobson


Residents of a 12-storey condo at 10 Derby Lane say they left city hall “shocked” Monday after council approved rezoning that permits a new drive-through at a Harvey’s restaurant about 40 feet from their building.

Harvey’s located at 321 Christina St. North. (Cathy Dobson photo)

Council voted unanimously in favour of the drive-through, ignoring city staff’s recommendation against it and also ignoring a city zoning bylaw that prohibits drive-throughs adjacent to residential zones.

Council also ignored a public health recommendation to reject the proposal. A health unit memo said drive-throughs do not align with the City of Sarnia’s safer streets and active transportation initiatives or its climate change mandate.

Proposal for drive-thru at Harvey's.

In approving the drive-through, council also supported a reduction in parking spaces at the Harvey’s located at 321 Christina St. North, and reduced requirements for landscape planting.

“I’m just flabbergasted, just very, very surprised,” said Howard Bartlett, one of several 10 Derby Lane residents who presented council with a petition with 59 names asking that the rezoning application be rejected.

“I thought plain common sense would dictate that you wouldn’t put a drive through so close to 46 residential units on the east side of our building,” Bartlett said.

“I think we’re all surprised that council doesn’t seem concerned about the pollution from idling cars, or the noise, when there are people with their windows open on that side of the building.”

After hearing from Harvey’s owner Okan Zeytinoglu, council discussed and debated the issue for about two hours before supporting his plan.

Zeytinoglu told council he intends to reinvest in his family-owned restaurant business if he’s permitted to build a drive-through, which he estimates will increase his business by about 18%. Harvey’s is nowhere near as busy as the McDonalds Restaurant up the street, he said. An 18% increase means only 20 – 30 additional cars per day at Harvey’s, according to Zeytinoglu.

Okan Zeytinoglu, owner, Harvey's at 321 Christina St. N.

Harvey’s Corporation requires a remodelling of the restaurant and Zeytinoglu said he can’t justify spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate unless he increases revenues with a drive-through.

After 47 years in business, he’ll be forced to close down the Christina Street Harvey’s if he can’t build a drive-through, he said.

“We love our city and want to remain a part of it. Our goal is to be here another 50 years.”

Zeytinoglu said fast food diners changed their habits during the pandemic and take-out is necessary to stay in business now. He said he intends to reduce the number of seats inside the restaurant so fewer parking spots will be needed.

He also said he wants to work with the neighbours to mitigate the noise and light pollution with a tall wooden fence and some evergreens separating Harvey’s from 10 Derby Lane.

Vehicles have better technology now that allows them to stop and start, rather than continuously idling at a drive-through, Zeytinoglu said, adding that he expects drive-through customers to be served within three minutes.

Coun. Anne Marie Gillis and Coun. Brian White both said they went to council intending to vote against the drive-through proposal, but changed their minds.

“I can tell you Mr. Zee, I have been dead-set against drive-throughs since the beginning of time,” said Coun. Gillis. “Hate them. But, to your point, I noticed drive-throughs were a salvation during the pandemic.”

She said she is in favour of Zeytinoglu improving his building and delivering a service “that people clearly want.”

Coun. White said he isn’t a fan of drive-throughs but wanted to treat Harvey’s the same as other fast food restaurants in Sarnia that have been permitted to have them. Several others exist that have drive-throughs adjacent to residential lots.

Coun. Adam Kilner called the issue “sensitive” and said he wanted to help a local business owner succeed.

“For me, this is about how do we help everybody, including the applicant,” Kilner said.

Council’s unanimous vote in favour means the project can move ahead to the site plan stage, which does not require further council approval, said Stacey Forfar, the city’s general manager of community services.  

City staff will post a notice of council’s decision within 15 days and then a 21-day appeal process starts. Subject to no appeals, Zeytinoglu can start work on a site plan.

“I’d like to appeal,” said Bartlett, “but I understand it’s an expensive process and we’re a lot of elderly people in this building.

“I’m not sure the resources are there.”


City staff is going to work with the newly-formed NuSarnia Foundation and Bluewater Trails Committee to devise a temporary bike lane that encourages family cycling to Canatara Park July 1.

“I really like this idea,” said Coun. Adam Kilner. “There’s usually gazillions of bikers weaving in and out of traffic on Canada Day.”

City engineer David Jackson said preliminary estimates are $10,000 or less to pay for temporary signage, directional markings and bollards along the route.

Coun. Terry Burrell said he is concerned about “bringing something new into the mix,” but ultimately voted in favour with the rest of council.

A staff report is coming back to council June 12.



City council approved three contracts for this season’s road resurfacing including: DiCocco Contractors - $1.866 million; Sev Con Paving - $686,256; and Cope Construction - $1.591 million.

The following streets are included in the three contracts for asphalt resurfacing:

• Thorncrest Road – Colborne Road to Sherwood Trail

• Sherwood Trail – Ridgewood Drive. to Dead End

• Beach Lane – Lakeshore Road to Colborne Road

• Lombardy Drive - Giffel Road to Severin Drive

• Retlaw Drive - Evan St. to McKay Ave.

• Retlaw Drive - Forest Drive to Dead End

• Errol Road – Indian Road to Michigan Ave.

 • Lee Court – Murphy Road to Dead End

• Randy Road – Vye St. to Dead End

• Champlain Road – Errol Road to Thomas Drive

• King Street – Hall St to Oakdale Ave.

• Lake Chipican Drive, Andover Lane, Charlesworth Lane – Canatara Beach Entrance to Christina St.

• McCaw Street – McKay St. to Rowe Ave.

• Telfer Road – Michigan to Jackson Road

• Davis Street – Brock St. to Christina St.

• Bright Street - East St. to Russell St. (excludes Palmerston intersection)

• Bright Street - Mitton St. to Forsyth St.

• Gladwish Drive - Plank Road to Dead End

• Nelson Street – Lydia St. to Christina St.

• Eastwood Street – William Ave. to Hillary St.

• Kintail Street – Mack Ave to Palmerston St.

• Mack Avenue – Confederation St. to Ontario St.

• Southern Avenue – Eastwood St. to Maxwell St.

• Hamilton Road - Kaymar Cres. to Waterworks Rd.

• Hamilton Road - Westgrove Dr. to Brigden Rd.

This year’s approved spending on resurfacing is the largest in Sarnia’s history, said city engineer Dave Jackson.

Coun. George Vandenberg jokingly declared himself “kind of a pothole archeologist” and presented council with a video of Forest Street from Retlaw to Grove. 

It’s essentially gravel and reportedly hasn’t been repaved since 1968, he said.

“There are many roads in our city in poor condition,” agreed Jackson. “There’s a huge need and we hope to get to more every year.”



In a move that would be the envy of many local developers, city council voted to allow a local farmer to clear 12.5 acres of scrubland without an expensive environmental assessment.

Eric and Laura Smit own the last farm at the eastern end of the city at Churchill Line and Mandaumin Road. It includes a 30-acre sugar bush where they produce maple syrup.  Adjacent to it is a large area of European Buckthorn and Hawthorn trees, which are considered invasive species. 

The St. Clair Conservation Authority and County of Lambton agree with the Smits that the invasive species are a threat to the healthy sugar bush and should be removed.

Smit said it’s unfair that the city requires an environmental assessment and asked for an exemption.  City staff argued that an environmental assessment is not just to protect vegetation but also wildlife that may be living in the scrubland.

Council unanimously agreed with the Smits. 



Net income before taxes reached an all-time historic high in 2022 of $8 million at Bluewater Power, CEO Janice McMichael-Dennis told council Monday.

As the utility’s majority shareholder, Sarnia received nearly $3 million of that. The Village of Point Edward received $115,355; Warwick Township received $74,278; Brook Alvinston received $24,646 and Oil Springs received $6,818.

Bluewater Power’s 2022 revenues were up 20% over 2021, but McMichael-Dennis said robust revenues are “never on the backs of the ratepayer.”

“When we win, you win,” she said, noting that the utility has an 87% customer satisfaction rating.

Council also heard that long time board member Glenn Jones retired and has been replaced with Douglas Sulman, a lawyer and former Chatham Hydro board member.

All other directors have been reappointed including: Garry McDonald (chair); Steve Bolt (vice chair); Brad Goodhill; Margaret Dragan; Dr. Katherine Albion and Sandy Marshall.

McMichael-Dennis started her presentation with what she called the most important number: 1.9 million injury-free hours despite being one of the world’s most dangerous industries.



Several city councillors were quick to point out their personal experience with the film industry as they discussed a request from a small film company that wants to use Canatara Beach for four days this summer.

Coun. Brian White said he worked in the film industry and wrote his thesis about it.

Coun. Terry Burrell boasted that he’s “likely the only one on council” that took part in the filming of a Hollywood movie called Bless the Child and drove backwards on the Bluewater Bridge several times.

Coun. Bill Dennis chimed in that he has family ties to a Mark Wahlberg movie called Renaissance Man filmed in Point Edward.

On the whole, there was a general enthusiasm from council about a request from a southern Ontario film company called Three Friends Productions to shoot near the lifeguard building on the beach July 28 – July 31. 

The beach won’t need to be closed and city staff can write a report based on the experience about guidelines for future filming in Sarnia, council noted. The request was approved.

[email protected]


Join the Community: Receive Our Daily News Email for Free