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Rebuilding Tillsonburg's first Tim Hortons

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Randy Salverda has been a man on a mission for the past eight years.

Starting some time in 2015, a new Tim Hortons at 73 Oxford Street will go up, and Tillsonburg's original Tim Hortons – built in 1983 – will come down. The new facility will include a double drive-thru, seating inside and a patio at the front.

"We're going to be redoing basically the whole lot," said Salverda, who applied for and received a minor zoning change at Town Council on the 23rd of June to allow for the drive-thru.

"We're going to have more greenery, more grass and plants. I do that with all my stores."

The property at 73 Oxford Street, at the corner of Bloomer/Tillson Ave, is owned by TDL, Tim Hortons head office, and has been managed by Salverda Donuts – beginning with Randy's parents, Peter and Edna – since it was built in December 1983 – known as Store 183 in the chain, which now has more than 4,000 stores.

"They opened here... I remember that day like it was yesterday," Salverda smiled. "There was a guy from head office and we had so had baked so many donuts – we had donuts sitting all over the place – the guy says, 'oh we're in great shape, we can open the doors'. And two hours later we had to start making donuts again because they were all gone. It was insane."

There are two buildings on the property – one for the Tim Hortons, one is a plaza that has not been occupied in recent years.

"Since that building's been sitting empty... we're paying to heat it. Then a couple a couple of the heating units went down, water lines froze, and we had the water shut off. And it was like, 'ok, can we just get something done here.'"

So Salverda began pushing for a change.

"I initialized it, head office has to verify it."

A proposal to tear down the plaza meant building a new retaining wall, which effectively becomes a sound barrier.

"When we looked at the retaining wall, the cost went sky-high, way over the limit TDL puts on a property. So every time we'd send a plan in, they'd say.... 'too much money, we're not going to do it.'"

Eventually, with head office support, he got it going in the right direction.

"The town has been great, the hydro company has been great," Salverda nodded. "They've done a lot of stuff to help us out to make this all work. Anything to do with the town has been fantastic. But it's all come down to costs."

Eventually, after about nine attempts, they came up with a design that worked for the property.

"The new building will be built over there," said Salverda, pointing to the rear of the property. "When it's all done, we'll take the stuff we need out of this building, then we'll tear this building down.

"We're not going to shut this store down, we're going to leave it open while construction is going on at the new site, where the strip mall is now. It'll be a little less parking while we're going through construction, but I think most people want to see something done here.

"It's going to be an improvement – and it's going to be nice to have this whole property cleaned up. And the new design, I think it's going to look really great here. When you come down into town, I think it's going to look great. It should have been done a long time ago as far as I'm concerned."

The time frame for construction won't take long once they start, said Salverda.

"I don't want to do it in the winter. If we can, we're going to start next spring – if possible. That's my goal, but it's not written in stone. That's what I'm going to try to push for."

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