Moratorium | Traffic at Tim Hortons prompts drive-thru crackdown

Traffic at Tim Hortons prompts drive-thru crackdown

Posted By TARA BRAUTIGAM, THE CANADIAN PRESS

The ubiquitous Tim Hortons drive-thru, a daily pit stop for many Canadians on their way to work, has brewed a controversy in Newfoundland and Labrador’s capital city.

Municipal politicians in St. John’s have passed a motion that prohibits the establishment of new drive-thru operations unless businesses can prove to the city’s traffic department that vehicles won’t spill out onto public streets.

Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said while there wasn’t much public pressure calling for the legislation, it came about because of safety concerns arising from traffic lining up along drive-thrus and spilling out onto roads.

“We have had incidents where fender benders have resulted,” O’Keefe said in an interview Tuesday.

“Inevitably … something tragic is going to happen if it’s allowed to continue.”

O’Keefe said the resolution passed Monday doesn’t target any specific business but was triggered by the growing popularity of Tim Hortons drivethrus in the city.

“I guess in many ways they are the victim of their own popularity and their own success,” he said, adding that possible solutions could include more drive-thru lanes at each location and separate express lanes at busy times of the day where only coffee is sold.

A spokeswoman for Tim Hortons said the company has met with city officials to address traffic concerns and hires extra staff during peak periods.

Rachel Douglas, the company’s public affairs director, also said Tim Hortons is renovating at least one outlet in the city to improve traffic flow.

“Tim Hortons is continuously working on making our sites better to serve our customers faster,” Douglas said in a statement.

The motion, which took effect immediately, sparked a flurry of reaction from private enterprise and the public.

http://www.thesudburystar.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=1376609

Board of Trade and Corner Brook Mayor Against Drive-Thru Moratorium

January 7, 2009

The President of the St. John’s Board of Trade says a moratorium on fast-food drive thrus isn’t necessary. Council imposed the moratorium after concerns of traffic jams and safety risks. The motion requires businesses to prove that traffic won’t spill onto public roads before they’re allowed to set up a drive-thru. President Donna Stone says public safety is top priority, but she says a drive thru component is very important to some businesses. She’s hoping both sides will come together to work out an agreement.

Corner Brook Mayor Charles Pender says a moratorium on fast food drive-thrus is not something his council is considering. (The City of St. John’s has issued such a moratorium amid concerns over traffic jams, especially during the morning rush hour.) Mayor Pender says the issue has never come up at council even though he has noticed some congestion, especially on O’Connell Drive. Mayor Pender says the problem is with the drivers and not the business owners and it’s never a good move to deter businesses from opening up shop. Pender says issues with traffic congestion should be left to the police since it’s their responsibility to ensure safe driving. As well, he says motorists know the rules of the road and that it is illegal to block traffic.

http://www.vocm.com/news-info.asp?id=33493

Tim Hortons Continues to Lead in Denialism & Greenwash Tactics in Canada

Group raises doubts over drive-thru study

December 15, 2008


RECORD STAFF
KITCHENER

Tim Hortons stands by its study of pollution from idling vehicles in drive-thrus, despite a withering critique by the city’s environment committee.

A meeting of the city’s environmental advisory committee on Thursday included a harsh analysis of the company’s study on vehicle emissions at drive-thrus.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. retained Guelph-based RWDI to study pollution from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines.

It concluded the emissions from vehicles waiting in drive-thru lines were less than from cars that had been turned off for a few minutes and then restarted.

But McColl said only five locations out of 3,000 were studied. The study also compared vehicle emissions to “everyday sources” such as a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw.

McColl said such engines are rarely used, giving the comparison little relevance.

And a small sample size can have a high margin of error, McColl said.

“These are some of the shortcomings in the report. They are enough to foster skepticism in me,” McColl said.

Tim Hortons Inc. had the study done after learning that Kitchener had joined a growing list of cities that considered tighter restrictions or even outright bans on new drive-thrus.

Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons Inc., said the RWDI study is absolutely a scientific study.

“The breadth of analysis and range of sensitivities studied deal with any concerns raised about the number of stores in the study. Also, high-volume locations at rush hours were studied,” Javor said in an e-mail.

He defended the comparisons of emissions from chainsaws and snowblowers.

“Readers need to understand the order of magnitude and scale,” Javor said. He noted the study was peer reviewed and is currently under consideration for publication in a scientific journal.

“This all suggests that the study is worthy of broader consideration,” Javor said.

The environment committee voted to pass along the RWDI study to city councillors as information.

The committee also supports changing the way drive-thrus are designed so that people do not have to walk through a line of waiting vehicles.

Tim Hortons and other quick-service restaurants will be encouraged to better promote the option of going inside rather than idling in a drive-thru.

A representative of the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association did not like that idea.

“Our windows at the front are how we draw customers in, so the recommendation is a little confusing,” Michelle Saunders, the association’s manager of government relations, said to the committee.

“I would simply say that drive-thrus are widely supported by the public,” Saunders said.

Alain Pinard, the interim director of planning, listened to the critique of the RWDI study, but noted that city staff do not have the expertise to wade into this field of scientific inquiry. That is best left to peer-reviewed journals, Pinard said.

City staff will watch for reactions after the study is published and exposed to more experts in the field.

Pinard called the RWDI study a good start, but said city staff need more information before public policy decisions are based on it.

“We are not experts,” Pinard said.

Some committee members were openly disappointed, having hoped for a crackdown on drive-thrus and a ban on new ones.

“We know cars pollute,” committee member Nirala Sonder said.

“We asked that there be no new drive-thrus and that has not been addressed,” Sonder said.

http://news.therecord.com/News/Local/article/458994

Opinion | Drive-thru study isn’t convincing | The Record | Kitchener

Drive-thru study isn’t convincing

December 16, 2008

Tim Hortons has become as much of an esteemed Canadian institution as any corporate entity, but the company’s environmental policy doesn’t have the same top-notch reputation.

The coffee shop chain is going to have to do better than present the type of report it released on drive-thrus if it expects both coffee drinkers and everyone else to take its commitment to the environment seriously.

Concerned about the possibility that Kitchener and other cities could set tough rules or ban drive-thrus at coffee shops, Tim Hortons commissioned a report that said if cars shift from using drive-thru lanes to parking lots they will create more, not less, pollution. The report was prepared by a consulting company, RWDI of Guelph.

At the very least, this result seems to be counter intuitive. Skeptics may feel the report’s conclusions sound like the reports issued by the tobacco industry a few decades ago that denied a link between tobacco and cancer.

Sure enough, Kitchener’s environmental committee treated the report with scathing skepticism.

“It is not a scientific study, it is a piece of marketing and public relations,” committee member Bob McColl said. He wondered not only about the small number of locations used in the study but also about some of the comparisons in the report.

It compared emissions at a drive-thru with emissions made by a 16-horsepower snowblower and an 11-horsepower chainsaw. This comparison just confuses the issue.

What snowblowers and chainsaws do or do not emit has nothing to do with the question: Does taking a vehicle through a drive-thru produce more emissions than a vehicle that stops and starts in a parking space?

Perhaps the answer depends on the length of time a vehicle spends in a drive-thru.

Tim Hortons might even argue persuasively that the amount emitted at drive-thrus is small compared to all the emissions made by all vehicles, but its current strategy makes the company appear defensive. It would be wise to have an open mind and review its entire policy.

http://news.therecord.com/Opinions/article/459371

Polluters liable, even if they follow the rules, top court says

Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service

Published: Thursday, November 20, 2008

OTTAWA – Industrial polluters can be forced to pay damages if they excessively annoy nearby residents, even if companies comply with regulations governing emissions, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Thursday in a decision that stresses environmental protection.

The unanimous judgment ends a long-standing battle between St. Lawrence Cement and people who lived near the plant in Beauport, Que., until it shut down in 1997.

The residents launched a class-action suit against the plant in 1993, complaining that its operation spewed residue on their homes, land, and cars, along with an ensuing odour and noise that devalued their properties.

The key issue in the Supreme Court ruling was whether companies in Quebec can be found civilly liable, even if they are not strictly at fault for the inflicted damage because they followed regulatory standards on maintaining equipment.

Although the case was confined to interpretation of the Quebec Civil Code, the court noted that no-fault liability is also found in common law that is used in all other provinces.

“What is more, such a scheme is consistent with general policy considerations, such as the objective of environmental protection and the application of the polluter-pay principle,” justices Marie Deschamps and Louis LeBel wrote in the 6-0 decision.

The court said that the test for civil fault is whether the pollution violates a standard of conduct of a reasonable person.

Environmental groups hailed the decision as a “massive victory” that will empower citizens to challenge environmental annoyances.

“The result is that future environmental nuisance claims will be more easily proven under a no-fault regime, and polluters will have even more incentive to clean up their act to avoid being sued by their neighbours,” said Will Amos, a lawyer for the University of Ottawa Ecojustice Environmental Law Clinic.

The decision upholds a ruling in the Quebec Superior Court, which absolved St. Lawrence Cement of wrongdoing, but nonetheless found the company liable for excessive disturbance and ordered it to pay about $15 million in damages to the residents.

The Quebec Court of Appeal rejected the lower court’s finding that a company can be found liable in the absence of fault. But the appeal court found St. Lawrence Cement guilty of wrongdoing in its compliance with environmental laws.

The appeal court also limited the scope of class-action suits by restricting damages to homeowners, and excluding tenants and family members from claims – a ruling that the Supreme Court rejected.

St. Lawrence Cement, based in Concord, Ont., said Thursday in a statement that the recognition of a no-fault liability scheme in Quebec could have “far reaching implications” for Canadian industry.

“SLC does acknowledge that, despite using state-of-the-art equipment to manage dust and consistently complying with all regulatory requirements, there was annoyance to our neighbours from the operation of the plant,” the statement said.

Court evidence showed that the cement plant, responding to ongoing complaints, spent $8 million between 1991 and 1995 on new dust collectors for its kilns.

The company continues to operate in more than 50 Canadian communities, employing about 3,000 people and generating annual revenue of more than $1.5 billion.

http://www.canada.com/reginaleaderpost/news/story.html?id=0826ef18-35a7-4bc6-9122-168361b62a39

Tim Hortons Refuses to be Environmentally Responsible … As Per Usual

tims-collection1
PACKAGING

Tim Hortons gets a reprieve on new waste rules

Coffee chain and fast-food outlets reach a compromise with the city, but grocery retailers and bottled-water makers are not included

JENNIFER LEWINGTON AND JEFF GRAY

Bert Marotte

November 13, 2008

Tim Hortons and other fast-food outlets yesterday won a five-month reprieve – but grocery retailers and bottled-water makers did not – from tough city proposals to reduce consumer packaging waste.

In a compromise struck during a 10-hour debate, the public works committee unanimously agreed to more talks with Tim Hortons and its competitors – but only until April, 2009 – to find a recycling solution for disposable coffee and hot-drink cups that now go to landfill.

“This allows industry and leaders like Tim Hortons to sit down with the city on how we are actually going to reduce the volume of garbage going into our garbage dumps,” said committee chairman Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38 Scarborough Centre.) “How do we get 365 million coffee cups out of the garbage stream and into the recycling stream?”

But by a vote of 4-2, the committee rebuffed moves to delay other proposals in a report by the city’s solid-waste department, including a 10-cent discount for consumers who avoid using a plastic bag at the checkout counter. The committee also held to a proposed ban on bottled water at civic centres, effective immediately, and at city facilities in three years.

After the vote, which heads to council for debate in early December, a spokeswoman for grocery retailers expressed dismay they had won no relief.

“I hope saner minds will prevail,” said Kim McKinnon, Ontario vice-president of the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors. “What they’ve done here is cause a huge economic burden on the grocery retailers … consumers will feel the multimillion-dollar impact.”

Nick Javor, senior vice-president of corporate affairs for Tim Hortons, expressed relief at the committee vote, but did not commit to specific actions.

“We have to go back and do more work,” he said.

The original staff report – which at the insistence of Mayor David Miller avoided calls for new taxes – won praise from environmentalists and universal opposition from industry. The report called on the fast-food industry to develop reusable take-out containers by 2010, and also switch to all-recyclable disposable take-out containers by the end of next year. (The city will start accepting polystyrene foam and plastic bags in blue bins in December.)

The plastics and food-industry groups repeated warnings yesterday that the city plan would cost hundreds of millions of dollars to business, and ultimately to consumers. City officials maintain the financial impact would be small. Industry groups also warned of possible legal action.

Stephanie Jones, the Ontario vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said the 20-cent discount for customers who bring their own mugs was “punitive” and would leave the coffee shops – especially small mom-and-pop operations – out-of-pocket.

“Where is the city’s research? I personally went to Costco, and if I buy a sleeve of 12-ounce paper cups and a package of lids, I pay just over 10 cents [per cup],” she said.

According to a report by city bureaucrats, hot-drink cups with a sleeve and a plastic lid range in cost from 13 cents to 27 cents. Tim Hortons already offers a bring-your-own-mug discount, but only 10 cents.

The city says Tim Hortons’ current coffees cups are unrecyclable because the plastic lids contaminate the paper recycling stream. The coffee giant refused yesterday to help pay for the estimated $3-million in new sorting equipment needed to process the cups.

Mr. Javor said Tim Hortons would support the city if it approached the province to seek funding for the new equipment. Yesterday’s compromise includes a recommendation that the city ask the province for the financial help.

As of yesterday, Mr. Javor’s name now appears in the city’s lobbyist registry. The Globe and Mail reported on Tuesday that, despite meeting with city councillors last week, Mr. Javor did not appear in the city’s on-line lobbyist registry that tracks contact with city officials.

Lobbyist registrar Linda Gehrke would not comment if she is still investigating any possible breach of the rules by Mr. Javor. A conviction for a first offence could mean a fine of up to $25,000, but Ms. Gehrke says she is taking a lenient approach as industry adjusts to the rules.

Saving the planet

Some recent moves by other jurisdictions:

PLASTIC/PAPER

SHOPPING BAGS

Seattle: A 20-cent-a-bag “green fee” on plastic and paper bags, set for Jan. 1, is on hold pending the outcome of a referendum later next year.

San Francisco: It was the first city in the U.S. to impose a ban on plastic shopping bags, followed by Oakland, Calif., and Portland, Ore.

Ireland: A tax on plastic grocery bags, the equivalent of 34 cents a bag, was imposed in 2002, prompting a 90-per-cent drop in use.

Vancouver: A ban is under consideration, after Metro Vancouver (22 area municipalities) decided to work to discourage use of disposable bags.

BOTTLED WATER

Seattle: A mayor’s executive order banned city departments from buying bottled water, effective this month.

Metro Vancouver: It launched a campaign in September to encourage tap water use over bottled water, with a goal to reduce consumption 20 per cent by 2010.

Charlottetown: It was the first city in the country to ban bottled water from municipal facilities, in 2007. In August, London, Ont., imposed a similar ban. Vancouver and Kitchener-Waterloo are considering bans.

FOOD AND BEVERAGES

Seattle: A ban on polystyrene foam takeout containers comes into effect Jan. 1.

San Francisco: Disposable takeout containers must be biodegradable or suitable for compost or recycling.

Turner Valley, Alta.: In April, became the first municipality in Canada to ban polystyrene in food packaging, such as foam cups.

Jennifer Lewington and

Bert Marotte

Tim Hortons | Lobbying against Environment | Conundrum

INFLUENCING CITY HALL

City watchdog set to probe coffee giant over lobbying

Firm’s spokesman argues he’s on city registry

Toronto’s lobbyist watchdog is investigating whether doughnut chain Tim Hortons – battling the city over a proposed environmental ban on its coffee cups – is following city hall’s new rules as the firm tries to influence councillors.

Lobbyist registrar Linda Gehrke, who oversees the online registry that tracks meetings between lobbyists and city officials, said yesterday she will investigate why Nick Javor, Tim Hortons senior vice-president of corporate affairs, does not appear on the city’s list as a registered lobbyist.

Ms. Gehrke, who said she is exercising leniency as the registry is still getting established, said a report in The Globe and Mail on Saturday that Mr. Javor was meeting with city councillors prompted her to look into the matter: “That was my first inkling that there was lobbying going on.”

In a brief interview in a corridor of councillors’ offices yesterday, Mr. Javor said his staff had told him he was a registered lobbyist and that he would look into the problem.

Tim Hortons has also hired consultant Kim Wright of lobbying firm Sussex Strategy Group – accompanying Mr. Javor yesterday – to help make its case against plans to force the chain to switch to coffee cups that the city’s recycling system can handle and to mandate a 20-cent discount for customers with their own mugs.

Ms. Wright is listed as a registered lobbyist for Tim Hortons, but her entry on the city’s website as of yesterday afternoon did not detail with whom she has met on the doughnut chain’s behalf.

Lobbyists have three business days after a meeting to update an entry. But Ms. Wright said that last Monday, she actually submitted a list of four councillors, all members of the works committee set to debate the recycling issue tomorrow. She said she didn’t know why the registry had not updated.

Ms. Wright also said the rules were unfair, since non-profit environmental groups are exempt.

The lobbyist registrar said it was “quite possible” that the fact the website was taken down Monday and part of Tuesday for a software update was the reason Ms. Wright’s entry was not updated.

Under the city’s complex rules, the question of whether Mr. Javor needs to be registered as a lobbyist could hinge on whether he attends meetings only as Ms. Wright’s client. According to Ms. Gehrke, if Mr. Javor was actively lobbying during these meetings, he should be registered as well.

But Mr. Javor has also had at least one phone conversation with a city councillor on his own. Councillor Frank Di Giorgio (Ward 12, York South-Weston) said yesterday that he returned a call from Mr. Javor on Friday about the issue.

Mr. Javor also met with Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker (Ward 38, Scarborough Centre) – the works committee chairman pushing for the coffee-cup changes – and Councillor Howard Moscoe (Ward 15, Eglinton-Lawrence) about a month ago, Mr. De Baeremaeker said, adding that he had assumed Mr. Javor was registered.

The new lobbyist registry website, which has been years in the making and was bogged down by delays and confusion as council slashed its budget, is the first of its kind run by a Canadian municipality. It was called for in the inquiry into the city’s MFP computer-leasing scandal. Bernie Morton, another lobbyist with Ms. Wright’s firm, actually helped city officials draft the rules.

Under the city’s lobbying rules, a representative of a corporation who tries to influence city officials without registering and properly disclosing the names of the officials being approached could face a fine of up to $25,000 if convicted for a first offence.

Meanwhile, three city councillors – Peter Milczyn (Ward 5, Etobicoke-Lakeshore), Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) and Mr. Minnan-Wong – said they would push to have the works committee refer the city’s controversial packaging crackdown back to city staff in order to continue talks with the industry and draft a compromise.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20081111.wtrash11/BNStory/National/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20081111.wtrash11

Tim Hortons joins drive-thru debate | Kitchener

MERCURY NEWS SERVICES

Mercury news services
September 12, 2008

Terry Pender
Mercury news services

KITCHENER

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.

http://news.guelphmercury.com/News/article/379970

Letter to Editor | LFP | Drive-thrus

Letter to Editor


drive-thru
Association misleads public
I am disgusted with the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association for using misinformation to mislead public on drive-through regulation.

The literature the association handed out cited a complete ban on drive-throughs, which was never the recommendation before the planning committee. The literature also said disabled people need drive-throughs and a ban would surely make life more difficult for disabled people.

There are currently 154 drive-throughs in this city and there were never any plans to close them. The ORHMA used those with disabilities as a vehicle in which to drive its message home, which was that a ban on drive-throughs was unacceptable to them.

Misleading the public and taking advantage of the less fortunate is abhorrent behaviour and I say shame on the ORHMA.

POSTED BY: Leonard Peter Manning, London
POSTED ON: July 21, 2008

EDITORS NOTE: As published in The London Free Press on July 21, 2008.

It’s still not OK to idle | Article

Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE) is our federal government’s official body for helping Canadians save energy and money. Its website, http://www.oee.nrcan.gc.ca, has a wealth of information about everything from buying better home appliances to designing better commercial buildings.

If you’re a frequent visitor to the site, you may have noticed that longstanding guidelines for idling reduction were modified recently. But there’s something a bit suspicious about the changes.

Old rules and new rules

For years, the OEE’s idling reduction programs have been based on the 10-second rule. It’s message is simple: it’s better to turn a car or light truck engine off than to let it idle for more than 10 seconds.

It’s a general guideline, so as with any such rule there are exceptions. For example, it’s not recommended that engines be shut off at traffic stoplights – they don’t always start back up when you want them to, and that can create a traffic mess. As well, it doesn’t always make sense in cold winter conditions. But overall, the 10-second rule has been a great guideline for Canadians, helping us save money, fuel and the environment.

But back in February, the 10-second rule suddenly disappeared from OEE’s website. In its place was a message indicating that an update was coming soon.

Six months later, the long-awaited update has finally arrived. Now it seems that it’s OK to idle longer. Has the science behind the recommendation changed – or is something else at work? A recent CBC news story suggests there’s a bit more behind our federal government’s change of heart.

Real science or science of convenience?

You see, excessive idling is starting to become socially frowned upon. It’s about time, of course – Canadians waste literally millions of litres of fuel every day through unnecessary idling. If we are truly ready to believe the environment is worth taking care of, minimizing our idling is one of the easiest things we can do.

Much of our preventable idling takes place at the drive-thru, so fast food restaurants and coffee shops are becoming concerned that a backlash against idling might put a damper on a part of their business that clearly makes mountains of cash. If that CBC story is correct, they have been very busy behind the scenes, working to sanitize the image of their drive-thrus. That sanitization campaign has included sponsoring a study that concludes that going through the coffee shop drive-thru causes no more pollution than parking. It has included publicizing those results using questionable comparisons, such as comparing chainsaws (whose two-stroke engines pollute much more by design) to vehicles at drive-thrus. And it has included pulling political strings to help the study’s conclusions become part of the government’s new recommendations.

Could the story be true? There are a few indisputable facts. RWDI Air, an Ontario engineering firm, recently conducted a study on behalf of Tim Hortons that seems to vindicate drive-thru. The study is being widely used to defend them, including by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA), whose membership includes most drive-thru operators in Canada.

Then last February, the CRFA met with Natural Resources Minister Gary Lunn, who oversees the OEE – and the 10-second rule disappeared from OEE’s website within 24 hours.

I hope the CBC story is wrong, of course, and that this is all just coincidence. Just like any other Canadian, I want to believe that my government bases its recommendations to Canadians on sound science exclusively. Just imagine if Health Canada took its directives from the pharmaceutical industry. But I have to admit I’m concerned that in this case real science may have been trumped by other interests.

In the meantime, since the 10-second rule remains valid in other countries, I think it’s too early to give up on it here. If you believe our environment is worth preserving, it’s still a good idea to minimize idling and avoid drive-thrus.

Carl Duivenvoorden http://www.changeyourcorner.com is one of 22 Atlantic Canadians trained by Al Gore to deliver presentations of ‘An Inconvenient Truth.’ He lives in Upper Kingsclear. His column runs every other Monday.

http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/magazine/article/395758

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