Tim Horton’s Places Blame On Consumer Demand

Study defends drive-thru air

Claims regular cafes have larger carbon footprint


You’re sitting in a drive-thru, waiting in a long line of idling cars for that morning cup of jo from the local Tims.

Is it good for the environment?

Not really, but it’s still better than the alternative, according to an Ontario Restaurant and Hotel Association report.

"There’s a lot of myths about drive-thrus and cars," said Robert Evans, president of the association.

"When we talk about the full environmental impact, in the end, a drive-thru restaurant has a smaller (carbon) footprint. The building is smaller, the parking lot is 20% smaller (which) reduces urban sprawl. It’s not just idling, it’s the total package."


According to the study by consulting firm RWDI, a parking-only location produces 20% more smog and 60% more greenhouse gases than a drive-thru outlet, most of that coming from time spent looking for a parking spot.

"When you drive into the parking lot, you have to drive around and look for a spot," Evans said. "You may have to drive around twice or wait for someone to back out."


Dr. Quentin Chiotti, a senior scientist at Pollution Probe, questioned some of the report’s conclusions.

"My feeling is how many Tim Hortons do we have that actually have a parking problem? It’s not an issue of driving around looking for a parking spot."

Chiotti was surprised by the study’s finding that many emissions come from restarting an engine when leaving.

"The new generation of cars don’t have that start-up problem," Chiotti said. "The argument that you’re burning more fuel by turning it off and restarting it is false."

Mississauga Councillor Carolyn Parrish wants to continue working with the restaurant industry to reduce emissions. Mississauga council has been fighting the growth of drive-thrus for the past five years.

"If you’ve got a drive-thru and there’s a huge lineup, you open two windows," she said. "If that’s not good enough, you open four windows.

"If you get people through the lines quickly, you’re making more money, and they’re causing less mess."

Tim Hortons has implemented a number of changes and continues to look for areas of improvement.

"We’re trying to cut down service times with better location design and not requiring signatures on credit card purchases," spokesperson Nick Javor said. "But drive-thru restaurants are a consumer trend and a consumer demand."



Drive-thrus study ordered



The city moved closer to placing restrictions on the development of drive-thrus last night with the approval of a report by planning committee.

City council asked the planning department to review potential zoning bylaw provisions to regulate drive-thru facilities.

The city needs to look at site-specific issues as well as overall city planning connected with drive-thrus, Coun. Shirley Eggleton said.

Eggleton suggested the city can keep drive-thrus away from residential areas and ensure businesses provide customers with the option to park as well as drive through.

Another problem is the number of vehicle spaces provided in drive-thru lanes, Eggleton said, referring to the Tim Hortons at Brookdale Plaza on Chemong Road.

"There are times when I cannot get into the entrance off Chemong because the cars are in the street," she said.

City zoning bylaws don’t regulate how many vehicle spaces businesses must provide for drive-thru lanes, planning division manager Ken Hetherington said.

"Perhaps that’s one area that we should explore," he said.

In a report to council, Hetherington states the city could stop any new drive-thrus from being built in pedestrian-oriented areas such as the business sections of downtown and Hunter Street East.

While the city can regulate where drive-thrus are built, Hetherington states the Ontario Municipal Board – a quasi-judicial body that considers appeals for municipal planning issues – has ruled against attempts to ban drive-thrus.

Blanket bans of drive-thrus have been overturned by the Ontario Municipal Board, he states.

The Ontario Municipal Board has decided banning drive-thrus would be a disadvantage for the elderly, the disabled and parents with young children in their vehicle, Hetherington states.

Otonabee Ward Coun. Doug Peacock asked if there are specific drive-thru sites that are causing problems.

"I don’t get too many complaints about it. In the south end there are very few drive-thru locations," he said. "I believe site planning can control a lot of the issues."

Eggleton and Coun. Bob Hall, the two Northcrest Ward councillors, are the most recent council members behind the drive to regulate drive-thrus.

Eggleton asked staff to look into the issue in July when she learned another drive-thru restaurant was planned near Portage Place, north of the Wendy’s restaurant on Chemong Road.

At the time, Eggleton cited concerns about idling and traffic congestion.

Eggleton and Hall failed to convince council to put the brakes on a plan to add a drive-thru to the Esso gas station at Chemong and Towerhill roads in October 2006.





Park the car and walk in; City may put brakes on drive-thrus


Posted 2 days ago

It may become a little harder to find a drive-thru in certain parts of the city if the city council goes ahead with a plan to potentially restrict where they can locate.

Drive-thrus at businesses such as the Tim Horton’s on Hunter Street East and the Scotiabank at Hunter and Water streets could be the last of their kind.

Planning director Malcolm Hunt suggests the city could stop any new drive-thrus from being built in pedestrian-oriented areas such as the business sections of downtown and Hunter Street East.

But he stops short of any specific recommendations. Instead, Hunt proposes the planning department review potential zoning bylaw provisions to regulate drive-thrus in the city.

City council will consider the issue when it sits as planning committee on Monday.

While the city can regulate where drive-thrus are built, Hunt states the Ontario Municipal Board – a quasi-judicial body that considers appeals for municipal planning issues – has ruled against attempts to ban drive-thrus.

Blanket bans of drive-thrus have been overturned by the Ontario Municipal Board, Hunt states in a report.

The Ontario Municipal Board ruled against a decision by the City of Ottawa to ban drive-thrus in certain types of areas, he states.

But the board upheld the City of Toronto approach, which regulates drive-thrus on a case-by-case basis through zoning bylaw provisions. In Toronto, new drive-thrus are prohibited in residential and mixed commercial-residential areas as well as certain pedestrian areas.

Toronto restricts new drive-thrus from locating within 30 metres of any home.

The Ontario Municipal Board has decided banning drive-thrus would be a disadvantage for the elderly, the disabled and parents with young children in their vehicle, Hunt states.



Air pollution in London boosts risk of heart attack

Tue, January 29, 2008






Short-term exposure to air pollution is killing 6,000 Canadians a year, and London is in one of the worst areas of the country, according to a report released yesterday by the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

The report also found few people are aware fine particle pollution can increase the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke. For individuals, such as smokers, it can increase the risk 94 per cent.

And even a short surge in fine particle pollution — 24 hours — can increase the risk of heart attack by 69 per cent, the foundation said.

"Most people are aware of smog advisories, but they don’t act on them," said Dr. Robert Hegele, a Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher and professor of medicine and biochemistry at the University of Western Ontario.

Elderly people and those who have had heart problems should stay inside on days when an air quality advisory has been issued, Hegele said.

Air quality across Canada has improved in the last few years.

However, there has been no significant change in fine particle pollution, produced by a wide variety of sources including cars, diesel trucks, factories, power plants, windblown dust, smoke from wood stoves and outdoor burning.

Ontario, Quebec and interior British Columbia are the worst areas for the pollution while Newfoundland and Labrador have the least.

In Ontario, the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton are identified as having the highest daily readings, creating an elevated heart attack risk.

But the London area’s air is close to the same poor quality, Hegele said.

The foundation report said people should be aware that the risk from the pollution is year-round, not just in the summer, and that rural areas aren’t exempt.

Wood stoves, pellet stoves and wood-burning fireplaces can be sources of dangerous air pollution and are responsible for 28 per cent of the fine particulate pollution in Canada, according to the report.


The Heart and Stroke Foundation called on governments to reduce air pollution and its impact on heart disease by :

– Extending the national Air Quality Health Index that has been piloted in Toronto, Nova Scotia and British Columbia to all parts of the country so all Canadians have information on air quality and when to limit exposure

– Providing incentive programs to encourage consumers and industry to reduce air pollution

– Increasing investments in public transit, including investing in high-speed rail access in the Quebec City to Windsor corridor

– Ensuring all wood-burning stoves and fireplaces conform to national particulate emission requirements

January 25, 2008


Drive-thrus at fast food outlets have let hungry or thirsty people get what they want in an easy manner. The problem, however, is that vehicles are idling for at least a few minutes while the drivers give their orders and then wait for their item to be served.

That idling time is now becoming a social issue. A vehicle waiting at a drive-thru is polluting and also emitting greenhouse gases, which may contribute to global warming. In addition, a drive-thru may pose a risk for pedestrians in the vicinity.

Some cities, including London, Hamilton, Mississauga and Winnipeg, have started regulating or banning drive-thru businesses. Kitchener council is expected to look at drive-thru operations in March. This item goes on council’s agenda shortly after the city won two drive-thru disputes at the Ontario Municipal Board.

To be sure, the idea of limiting another freedom is not something to relish, but the cost of doing nothing may force councils in Waterloo Region and elsewhere to protect the public good. We all suffer if we don’t cut various kinds of pollutants and emissions.

The Kitchener environmental advisory committee has already called for a ban on new drive-thru restaurants. Yvonne Fernandes, a member of the committee, said, "I think it’s vitally important for us to stand firm on this issue," adding that the city has an "awful lot of drive-thrus."

Speaking for Tim Hortons, Nick Javor, the company’s vice-president of corporate affairs, said consumers have built drive-thrus into their lives. He pointed out that some customers have mobility problems, others have young children in car seats and some people don’t like to walk across dark parking lots.

His points may have some validity but they don’t seem strong enough to counter the environmental concerns. The fast food business would be wise to start asking itself how it can help solve this problem.



Van. councillor wants ban on restaurant drive-thrus

Updated Tue. Jan. 22 2008 1:49 PM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

A North Vancouver councillor wants to ban restaurants from building drive-thrus in his city because he’s worried about the environmental damages caused by idling vehicles.

Coun. Sam Schechter introduced a motion Monday night to ban drive-thrus at restaurants. The motion would also prevent the only current restaurant in the City of North Vancouver with a drive-thru, an A&W, from expanding.

"It’s because we have a situation globally where greenhouse gas emissions are increasing," Schechter told CTV British Columbia. "We need to do what we can to combat that on a local level."

But North Vancouver residents don’t seem very excited about the idea.

"It seems ridiculous to me. How long do you actually sit in a drive-thru?" said one man.

Another man said the measure didn’t make much sense because it wouldn’t do much for the environment.

But Schechter said saving the environment can only happen by taking tiny, incremental steps.

"That means not letting people build drive-thrus," he said.

Schechter also wants to push for more bicycle lanes in the city and he wants to encourage residents to use public transportation more often.

Mark von Schellwitz, vice-president of Western Canada’s Canadian Restaurant and Food Service Association, said imposing a ban on drive-thrus could be a problem for the elderly, the disabled and people with health problems.

"We’re interested in working with all municipal councils on making drive-thru better with less time in lineups," he told The Globe and Mail.

Von Schellwitz also said some studies indicate vehicles will emit more greenhouse gas during the search for a parking spot than from waiting at a drive-thru.

In the U.S., two cities in California and one in North Carolina have imposed moratoriums on drive-thrus as a result of similar initiatives.

City council has ordered an investigation into Schechter’s motion and has asked for a report in a few months.

If approved, North Vancouver would become the only city in Canada to have a ban on drive-thrus.

With a report from CTV British Columbia’s Peter Grainger

Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council surveys – please pass on

The Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council was established in October 2007 with the mandate of making London a leader in energy sustainability for today, tomorrow and the future. The Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council is seeking your advice and opinions on where efforts should be focused in London on sustainable energy initiatives, which include energy conservation tips, energy savings incentives and green power. Please complete the business or consumer surveys which are easily accessible on the home page of the City of London under Have your Say at www.london.ca.

North Vancouver to banish the drive-thru burger?

Last Updated: Monday, January 21, 2008 | 9:42 AM ET

CBC News


The City of North Vancouver will be debating a motion Monday night to ban all restaurant drive-thru windows, meaning those hankering for a late-night burger and fries may soon have few options.

The motion was put forward by Coun. Sam Schechter, who wants to ensure any new restaurants do not have a drive-thru window.

"The motion that I’ve put forward is one to limit the growth of drive-thrus in North Vancouver, so in the future as businesses arrive, they won’t have a drive-thru service window," said Schechter.

The City of North Vancouver currently has only one drive-thru window, at a local A&W restaurant, according to Schechter, but there are several drive-thrus in the neighbouring District of North Vancouver.

Schechter said his goal is not to close the A&W drive-thru, but to prevent new ones from popping up.

He said he wants to ban the drive-thru option for two reasons: they attract a lot of late-night traffic and noise, and they are a constant source of idling cars.

He argued transportation accounts for more than a third of greenhouse gas emissions in North Vancouver.

"What I am suggesting is that we need to look at things through an environmental lens when we look at policy development and how we, as a society, expand and grow," said Schechter.

Entitled "Limiting Future Proliferation of Drive-Through Businesses in the City of North Vancouver, the motion is ninth on the agenda."

Council will begin discussing the agenda at 6 p.m. PT and the public portion of the meeting starts at 7 p.m. PT Monday night.



Toronto Star                                                    January 17, 2008

Emissions are tiny but deadly TheStar.com – comment – Emissions are tiny but deadly

As Toronto’s air gets hot and smoggy this coming summer, it will get harder to breathe, especially for kids, old folks and those with asthma and other respiratory problems.

If you think breathing is tough now, just wait until the McGuinty government’s big waterfront gas-fired power plant starts adding billions of fine particles to our already dirty air. Expect to see more deaths, more people in hospital emergency rooms, more workers off on sick days and more kids with asthma unless the government significantly revises how it plans to operate this plant.

Although Toronto’s Officer of Health recommended that the plant undergo a full environmental assessment, the government ignored the medical advice and allowed the plant to proceed. Without a full assessment there is no mandate to look at reasonable alternatives to the plant and no requirement to assess the effects the plant would have on Torontonians.

Currently, 1,700 Torontonians lose their lives prematurely to air pollution every year. Toronto hospitals spend billions of dollars treating people suffering from serious respiratory ailments and heart problems. Businesses lose billions of dollars because of sick workers.

David Suzuki, a leading Canadian environmentalist, notes that, "Though particulate emissions are about one-tenth what they are for coal power, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 77 per cent of particulates from natural gas plants are dangerously small. These fine particulates have the greatest impact on human health because they bypass our bodies’ natural respiratory filters and end up deep in the lungs. In fact, many studies have found no safe limit for exposure to these substances."

No responsible government should build a large gas power plant in the middle of millions of people without conducting a full environmental assessment.

But there is still time to do the right thing. The government plans to allow this plant to operate 12 to 16 hours a day during the summer and winter seasons to provide electricity to Torontonians. But the plant could operate fewer hours if Dalton McGuinty would make two important changes.

First, the government needs to invest a lot more money in conservation to reduce Toronto’s electricity needs. And second, the government needs to mandate that all electricity consumers with interruptible contacts will have their electricity shut off before this power plant is fired up. Interruptible customers are those who pay lower electricity prices because they agree to shutdowns when electricity is in short supply.

These two changes would ensure this plant operates many fewer hours and consequently causes much less damage than it otherwise would. Surely people’s lives and health should come before the profits of the customers who are shut down and those of the plant owners, Ontario Power Generation and TransCanada.

Torontonians expect their government to look out for their health when it concerns the water they drink or the air they breathe. McGuinty has an opportunity to let Torontonians know he will minimize the damage this plant will do to their lungs and hearts with increased conservation and power interruptions that are already contractually agreed to.

John Wilson is an energy consultant, Toronto Energy Coalition member and engineer. He has worked in the electricity industry in Ontario and the U.S. and served on the board of Hydro One.

Mississauga takes aim at drive-throughs


Councillors propose new guidelines to limit their spread, ease traffic problems


Jan 16, 2008 04:30 AM


The ubiquitous suburban drive-through is under attack in Mississauga.

Councillors have decided to send proposed planning guidelines, which could restrict the spread of drive-through restaurants, to the city’s newly minted environment committee for review.

"I’ve always felt we had too many drive-throughs … It’s a problem," Mayor Hazel McCallion said yesterday. "I don’t think we can ban them, but we certainly have to get them under strict control."

McCallion said she’s tried to have them restricted in the past because of concerns over air pollution caused by idling cars and bad designs that put pedestrians at risk or cause a traffic nightmare.

But she’s never had enough backing on council. This time, she has the support of newer councillors such as George Carlson, chair of the environmental advisory committee, and Carolyn Parrish.

The Mississauga guidelines, five years in the making and similar to those imposed by Toronto in 2005, could make it impossible to create drive-throughs on small lots because of required setbacks from homes and the street. They also frown on designs that force pedestrians to walk across drive-through lanes to get into the restaurant.

The guidelines say that where possible, access should be right turns in and right turns out only to avoid traffic backups on main streets.

The industry had balked at guidelines it deemed too restrictive if imposed citywide, so planners came up with a compromise, allowing the rules to be implemented on a site-by-site basis. "It doesn’t mean we are watering down," said planner Andrew McNeil. "But it does give us some flexibility."

That flexibility doesn’t sit well with Carlson and Parrish, who want the environment committee to take a look at developing actual bylaws.

The committee, with McCallion’s backing, is also pushing to create an anti-idling bylaw similar to Toronto’s, under which drivers who idle for more than several minutes can be ticketed.

Parrish has asked staff to study legal precedents for limiting or even eliminating drive-throughs, report on their locations and suggest strategies to lessen their effects. Staff didn’t consider environmental issues when they drew up the guidelines, she said.

"It’s a case where we have to show leadership," Carlson said. "It’s not just an environmental issue. It affects the city’s culture and streetscapes and is about what kind of city we want to build."

Rob Evans, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, said yesterday his group had worked with the city on the guidelines. He also said they could pose challenges to members.

"We accept that we have to work with municipalities, be responsible to the environment and our customers," said Evans. However, he added, "any time a guideline or a rule or a regulation is introduced which distracts or reduces revenues and results in job loss, it is absolutely a concern to us."

Tim Hortons vice-president Nick Javor, who also worked with the city, said the company supports site-by-site application of rules instead of a blanket zoning bylaw.

"Every site has its peculiarities," said Javor. Customers, especially people with mobility problems and families with young children, have repeatedly told the company they appreciate the convenience of drive-throughs, he said.

He acknowledged that drive-through designs change over time. All Tim Hortons wants, he said, is to have input in future decisions.

Guidelines in both Toronto and Mississauga have arisen from situations where a particular location caused problems to residents.

McCallion decried one at Britannia Rd. and Hurontario St., where lineups sometimes back onto a busy street, and pedestrians are forced to dodge cars waiting in line.

In Toronto, the guidelines came about after a bitter fight by residents against a proposed McDonald’s drive-through on St. Clair Ave. W. near Bathurst St., which ended when McDonald’s withdrew its application. Toronto’s guidelines encourage use of a pedestrian entrance via the sidewalk. The drive-through itself should have access from a small side street and exit onto a main street.