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Ever wonder why there are no businesses around Loyalist College?


There are no businesses within reasonable walking distance from the college. [1]

There are no businesses within reasonable walking distance from the college. Photo by Samantha Reed

By Samantha Reed [2]

BELLEVILLE – If you’re a student living at Loyalist College and want to buy toothpaste, got to the movies or grab a pumpkin spice latte [3], good luck if you don’t have a car.

Aside from the on-campus food outlets such as Tim Hortons [4] and Subway [5], there are no businesses within reasonable walking distance of the college. Students have to take the city bus or have access to a car to get to anything off-campus.

Why is that?

Art Mackay, manager of policy planning for the city of Belleville, says no one has even approached the city about building a food or convenience business near the school.

“It’s interesting that no one has … I assume if there was a market, someone would step forward,” Mackay told QNet News.

Mitch Panciuk, a city councillor who owns the Boston Pizza [6] franchise on Bell Boulevard, said that his business could never survive near the college, because the area is too isolated.

“Being located closer to Loyalist College rather than a more convenient place in the city of Belleville would mean that I could only rely on Loyalist students and staff (as customers), and that wouldn’t be enough for me to stay in business to make a profit,” said Panciuk.

In the busy area where his restaurant is currently located, he doesn’t have to rely on only one demographic of customers, he said.

“Loyalist College also has the problem of while it goes year-round, there is a fairly seasonal schedule to it,” Panciuk said. The school is significantly quieter over the summer and holiday breaks, which would make it tough for nearby businesses, he explained.

But while the Loyalist area would not work for his business, it might for someone else’s, he said: “Businesses that can survive on a lower level of sales, for example, may find a match there – people that cater specifically to students.”

The city’s Mackay said that if a business did want to move into the area, servicing of the land – providing things like water and sewer access – might be an issue, depending on the type of business it was. While Loyalist itself is fully serviced, some of the surrounding area may not be, he said.

“I know with the Pizza Hut out on Highway 2 past (Canadian Forces Base Trenton [7]), when that went in that was on well and septic,” Mackay said. “A restaurant generates a much larger demand for sanitary (sewers) and for water, for that matter, and they had to put in a huge, expensive septic system.”

Another challenge for potential businesses in the area is that most of the land immediately surrounding the college has been zoned by the city for residential buildings, not commercial operations.

But nothing is set in stone, said Mackay. “If someone felt there was a need to have some more commercial (businesses) adjacent to Loyalist, they could certainly approach the municipality (with a rezoning request), and we could consider a proposal.”