Drive-thru ban still on track in Comox
Restaurant Association argues that emissions will actually increase
By Elaine Mitropoulos, Comox Valley EchoApril 10, 2009
Banning drive-thrus in Comox will curb business and employment – not greenhouse emissions, warns the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association.
Mark Von Schellwitz, the association’s vice president for Western Canada spoke before the town council this week, urging it to consider other anti-idling measures like a hybrid fleet, more roundabouts, and a consumer awareness campaign.
In a plea to the council to permit the fast-food fixture in future developments, Von Schellwitz turned to independent studies that suggested banning drive-thrus could boost rather than curb greenhouse gases.
“Drive-thrus have allowed our industry to serve a growing customer base without huge parking lots or more store locations,” he said. “That has environmental implications.”
The average time it took for someone to order their meal and have it in their hands was 125 seconds, he said.
Looking for a free parking stall could take minutes longer, leading to more emissions than those spewed forth picking up a burger from a drive-thru, Von Schellwitz said.
“I think it’s important to note that idling in drive-thrus represents only a fraction of total idling, and that idling itself actually only represents 0.2 per cent of overall emissions,” he added.
“One single snow blower, or perhaps more appropriately in the Comox Valley, one single chainsaw, produces more smog emissions than all the cars produced during the busiest hour at a typical Tim Horton’s drive-thru.”
Town planner Marvin Kamenz also suggested the ban could be counterproductive.
“Given that Courtenay is so close our own residents would then drive further to go to drive-thrus,” he said.
He recommended the council limit drive-thrus to arterial commercial zones and ban them from the downtown core, as well as approach other
Valley municipalities to participate in a joint ban to make it effective.
Without backing from Couns. Ken Grant and Tom Grant, the council was still in favour of completely banning future drive-thrus from the Comox business community.
“This is an issue that is timely and is now a conversation that the community needs to engage in,” said Coun. Ray Crossley, who chairs the town’s green team.
But Coun. Ken Grant disagreed, saying the motion was 15-20 years too late, especially with the advent of hybrid vehicles and the likelihood that vehicles would soon be emission-free.
“I don’t know why we’d wait until probably our worst economic downturn we’ve ever had to start doing this to our commercial residents in Comox,” he said.
The issue, however, will go to public hearing – much to Mayor Paul Ives’ disappointment.
“I would have much rather focused on a more comprehensive discussion on anti-idling,” he said.
© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service
Note: Last summer, The CRFA (Canadian Restaurant Food Association) worked with London Restaurants such as Tim Hortons & McDonalds in a massive lobbying effort against a campaign for a moratorium on new drive-thrus. During one of the most beautiful weeks of the year – these corporations had teenagers stand in the heavy exhaust of drive-thru lanes ultimately collecting 60,000 signatures in the one week period. Note that London has incredibly poor air quality in Ontario second only to Toronto. Smog days have quadrupled.
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