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To Timmies or not to Timmies, that is the question, Markdale

To Timmies or not to Timmies


On Monday, August 27, Grey Highlands Council approved the permit application to build a new Tim Hortons restaurant with a drive-thru and parking lot located at 217 and 219 Toronto Street South in Markdale. The permit was granted to 219 Toronto Street South Developments Inc. who have estimated the construction costs for the new facility at approximately $730,000 not including fees and permits.

Markdale Tim Horton's drawing 

Artist rendering of the planned Tim Hortons restaurant in Markdale.


Proposed site plan for Markdale Tim Horton's 

The site of the new development in Markdale.


Before and since the announcement, many people have voiced their opinions about the prospect of having a Tim Hortons on Highway 10 in Markdale and what it could mean for the town and its existing businesses.

To get a better perspective, South Grey News went to Dundalk and Durham to talk with business owners about their own experience when Tim Hortons franchises popped up in their respective communities.


Dundalk is a small town whose numbers haven’t changed much over the last 10 years. Like Markdale, its downtown has seen better days as a few empty stores and buildings dot the main street. Today, slightly more than 2,000 people call Dundalk home and, like Markdale, it is poised for a population boom with proposed housing developments adding 700 to 800 new families to the area over the next 10 years. A revitalization plan is also in the works.

While nobody with whom we spoke holds any ill will towards the coffee shop giant, and they certainly don’t connect Dundalk’s hard times with Timmies' arrival, some small business owners haven’t really seen an up-tick in sales or pedestrian traffic following their 2016 opening. “Sometimes people stop in to ask where Tim Hortons is,” said one store owner. “But once I tell them, they’re on their way again.” That’s an indication that while Tim Hortons may have attracted more people to town, they haven’t been moved to spend their money elsewhere.

Dundalk Tim Horton's 

Tim Hortons is located on the outskirts of town strategically placed to catch the traffic going up and down Highway 10. Coffee-loving travellers along this route would have to consciously make the westward turn onto Main Street to explore many of Dundalk’s finest, a behaviour that has yet to be effectively encouraged. Photo: Google.


At least one business casualty was remembered. Prior to the franchise’s appearance on the corner of Highway 10 and Main Street, Big Daddy’s Restaurant had satisfied the coffee, breakfast and light lunch crowds just a short distance away but closed its doors a few weeks later, an event that did not go unnoticed by the locals, a common sentiment being that a small business just can’t compete with a big chain. 

Traffic at the corner has since increased significantly and parking has become an issue, especially on summer weekends. Anecdotally, it was also noted that accidents at the corner have occurred where vehicles turn into the Tim Hortons and Esso lot. As anyone who has driven past the popular corner can attest, congestion at the lights, as well as lineups at the gas pumps and in the drive-thru are fairly common.

Local businesses also compete with the new Tim’s for employees. In the current economic climate, that has made it harder for smaller shops to find enough staff to stay open longer. On the other side of that coin, workers have had more employment opportunities. As the new store was gearing up for its grand opening, the franchise owners were flooded with job applications.

Also on the plus side of the equation, a Dundalk business owner mentioned the corporation’s outstanding record of community involvement and appreciated the local franchise’s sponsorships of children’s sports and activities.


While many lessons can be drawn from Dundalk’s experience, Durham’s Tim Hortons might actually have more in common with Markdale’s new development. Located at the south end of town, the iconic coffee and donut shop is situated on a well travelled highway and entices people to stop in as they forge their way straight through Durham’s retail business section.

When South Grey News took to Durham's streets to poll business owners about the Tim Hortons effect, we got mostly positive reactions mixed with some cautionary tales.

While some were quick to point out that Timmie’s brought much appreciated jobs to town and commended the owners for their high level of community involvement, the issue of high volume traffic snares during peak times and an increased number of fender benders on the road in front of the restaurant were often discussed.

Durham Tim Horton's 

Along Garafraxa Street, a single lane flows in each direction in front of Tim Hortons, vacant of any turn lanes or traffic lights that might alleviate back ups and discourage accidents. Photo: Google.


When asked if the arrival of Tim Horton’s had a negative effect on local business, the answer was “no”. In fact, the two most notable coffee shops in and around town remain in business some six years after Tim’s took up residence and another one has sprung up since, each offering a different, more unique product to set themselves apart.

One longtime business owner complained and was confirmed by a nearby customer, that the garbage created by discarded cups was littering roadsides, as well as clogging up their own cans and adding to their waste removal costs. “Fifty percent of the waste in our cans is Tim Hortons cups," he said. One of his customers, a volunteer at roadside cleanups, added that there are five Tim Hortons cups for every beer can picked up at events. 

Despite the trepidation expressed in Grey Highlands surrounding the new Tim Hortons development in Markdale, most of the concerns expressed by local businesses in both Dundalk and Durham about similar Timmies disruptions were about Tim's customers' behaviour and not about the business itself.

Littering, garbage removal and traffic problems topped their lists. Little or no negative effect on the economy was felt by those with whom we spoke.

We reached out to the owners of the new Tim Hortons franchise in Markdale but at the time of publication we had not received a reply. 

At South Grey News, we endeavour to bring you truthful up-to-date local community news in a quick and easy-to-digest format that’s free of political bias. We believe this service is more important today than ever before, as social media has given rise to misinformation, largely unchecked by big corporations who put profits ahead of their responsibilities.

South Grey News does not have the resources of a big corporation. We are a small, locally owned-and-operated organization. Research, analysis and physical attendance at public meetings and community events requires considerable effort. But contributions from readers and advertisers, however big or small, go a long way to helping us deliver positive, open and honest journalism for this community.

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South Grey News Comment Policy: Comments must be appropriate, respectful and related to the article. Comments will not be approved without a real first and last name and email address. Comments containing profanity, offensive material or personal attacks will not be permitted. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments without notice. Updated Feb 10 2020.

Your comments

Anonymous commented on 12-Sep-2018 01:35 PM3 out of 5 stars
The owners of "big daddy's" also own the restraunt "the junction down town dundalk so I would consider the comparison to Tim Hortons to almost be biased considering they were there own competition owning two restraunts in the same town.
Jiveshack commented on 13-Sep-2018 07:59 PM4 out of 5 stars
Both locations in Dundalk and Durham, in which I have lived in were not benefitted by Tim Horton's other than low paying jobs but also Tim's contributions in a small way to the community. It does satisfy commuters and tourist traffic but they all pass on through. Rarely do they stop to check out the downtown shops and visit. Hope that Markdale does a very detailed survey, traffic count, put in lights and infrastructure to meet the needs of traffic. Have seen the mess in Durham, day in and day out. Poorly planned location in Durham which blocks traffic on Hwy 6
Anonymous commented on 14-Sep-2018 07:23 PM3 out of 5 stars
this I see will only put the small guy out of business - well done - council members ! well done
Joyce Lazenby commented on 14-Jan-2019 09:57 AM3 out of 5 stars
If businesses stayed open longer or if there was some night life ie bowling alley ect Markdale would benefit...with restaurants and stores rolling up their store fronts so early the traveler thinks it is a ghost town. This is why I believe Timmies is a foit in the right direction
Gord Thorpe commented on 21-Sep-2019 12:08 PM3 out of 5 stars
The comments from the Dundalk business odd. Yes the customer came in and asked where Tim's was but that's your opportunity to close a sale. If they were not looking for Tim Horton's you wouldn't have seen them at all. As for Durham people stop for Tim's and then drive on through but before Tim Horton's opened they just drove on through so 1 out of a thousand slowing down in town and seeing something else they want is an uptick in local business no matter how small.

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