Mercury news services
September 12, 2008
Mercury news services
Tim Hortons went on the offensive yesterday against a possible ban on future drive-thrus in the city.
“If you get rid of drive-thrus, the cars keep coming, and the cars will move to the parking lots,” Nick Javor, a Tim Hortons senior vice-president, warned the environmental advisory committee.
And if cars shift from drive-thru lines to parking lots, it will mean more air pollution, not less, according to a study commissioned by the company.
The study measured vehicle emissions at Tim Hortons in Hamilton, Ottawa and Mississauga — two with drive-thrus and one with no drive-thru.
Study author Mike Lepage of Guelph-based RWDI concluded the public will get no better air-quality if drive-thrus are banned.
In late 2007, Kitchener city staff proposed several options for drive-thrus, ranging from changing their design to not allowing any more.
In response, Tim Hortons said it had a scientific report refuting the perception idling vehicles in drive-thus are a large source of air pollution.
Yesterday, the environmental advisory committee was briefed on the findings:
A car parked for 3.5 minutes to seven minutes and then restarted emits 0.6 grams of smog-related pollutants, 9.9 grams of carbon monoxide and 5.6 grams of carbon dioxide.
A vehicle idling in a drive-thru emits 0.3 grams of smog-related pollutants a minute, 3.4 grams of carbon monoxide and 34 grams of carbon dioxide.
Vehicles crawling through parking lots at up to 10 km/h to reach the drive-thru queue emit 0.4 grams of smog-related pollutants per minute, 3.7 grams of carbon monoxide and 75 grams of carbon dioxide.
The measurements were made in the morning, when drive-thru business peaked at 224 cars an hour.
Tim Hortons operates 1,700 drive-thrus across the country, with those outlets doing half their business at the window.
Lepage said emissions at the drive-thrus account for 0.21 per cent of the greenhouse gases generated by light-duty cars and trucks.
“Drive-thrus are a small part of motor vehicle emissions,” he said.
A single chainsaw causes more pollution than a single drive-thru, he said.
Committee member George Zador said the chainsaw argument was like saying Idi Amin wasn’t so bad because Hitler was worse.
Councillor Berry Vrbanovic, who chairs the advisory committee, wondered how Lepage would counter critics who say his study is biased because Tim Hortons paid for it.
This is why another scientist — chemical engineer Deniz Karman of Carleton University in Ottawa — was asked to review the study, Lepage said. The study has also been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.
Mark Peterson, a member of the committee, was impressed.
“To hammer away at Tim Hortons may be the wrong direction to be going,” he said. The problems are car-dependent cities and lifestyles, not drive-thrus, he said.
Javor, of Tim Hortons, made a similar argument.
“The answer is very simple,” he said. “Get rid of the car. Getting rid of the car will get rid of all of the emissions, all of the exhaust and all of the problem pollutants we are talking about.”
Committee members asked city staff study the issue and report back on options.