LITTLE CURRENT – The internet rumour mill was in full production last week when a Facebook user submitted a post in the popular ‘What’s Doin on the Manitoulin’ Facebook group about comments allegedly made by an employee at a Sudbury Tim Hortons.
“Was in Tim Hortons in Sudbury and heard the waitress say ‘it’s my last day. I’m going to be working at the new Tim Hortons in (Little Current).’ I thought she said February. I asked her where. She said near The Beer Store. So it must be a go,” wrote group member Roslyn Taylor.
When contacted by The Expositor, Ms. Taylor expressed her hope that this story would fall out of public discussion. She said it brought out a lot of anger and aggression toward people that did not accomplish much, and said she felt a certain degree of poster’s remorse because stirring up such discussion was not her intention.
The prospect of a Manitoulin Tim Hortons is among the most divisive issues among Islanders, well up in the ranks alongside the fate of the swing bridge.
Within two days, the post had amassed well over 300 comments from people who were either for, against, or relatively impartial to the whole concept. By the end of the week, the comment total far surpassed 400.
The Expositor searched a number of job posting websites, including the in-house Tim Hortons site, and no job postings surfaced for anywhere on Manitoulin Island. One posting on job site Indeed had a job available in ‘Greater Sudbury’ but did not specify a more discrete region.
Based on past comments made by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) and motions made by Northeast Town council, the location the employee allegedly mentioned of “by The Beer Store” may cast doubt on the employee’s alleged story.
MTO has completed a traffic study at the location next to The Beer Store. It stated that any development in that space would require roadway upgrades costing upwards of $500,000. MTO would require a third traffic lane with a tapered turning lane, an environmental study and another engineering study in order to give it its blessing to proceed.
However, another property in Little Current is also slated for development, with the triangular plot at the corner of Manitowaning Road and Blake Street also expected to hold a new business in the future. Land owner Jim McBane of Streetwise Holdings Inc. acknowledged that development discussions were underway, though he stopped short of identifying what the property may hold.
“I have entertained numerous businesses from out of town for that property. Nothing is in writing yet with any one of them, although I am working more closely with two of them. A final decision and/or agreement has not been made yet,” said Mr. McBane, whose holding company has owned the property for the past six to seven years.
“I’m not saying it’s Tim Hortons at all. Even if it was, it wouldn’t be my place to announce it—it would be Tim Hortons or any company who would have to announce it,” he said. “If something does happen and I get permission from whomever is involved, I will share that whenever it comes.”
Based on the feedback on the viral Facebook post, roughly 72 percent of respondents who expressed an opinion on a Tim Hortons locating on Manitoulin felt negatively about the prospect. Some 28 percent who expressed a definite opinion were in favour of the idea. Many more comments were either back-and-forth discussions or satirical takes on the debate.
The Expositor could not make contact with Espanola, McKerrow and Blind River Tim Hortons franchise owner Denis Lefebvre by press time. He had previously signed an agreement with Island developer Rob Sheppard for the property closer to the swing bridge before MTO released its list of road redesign stipulations.