City workers could one day be singing the drive-thru blues

“We expect the public to think twice about using the drive-thrus. People may come up with what they see as all these small steps, but all these steps make a difference at the end.”



A move to help “green” the fleet of City of Toronto vehicles has caught the eye of a couple of Peterborough councillors.
Toronto City Council will, next month, consider a proposal to ban City of Toronto vehicles from using drive-thrus.
Peterborough councillors Shirley Eggleton and Dean Pappas says it’s not a bad idea.
“I would definitely be in support of investigating this further,” notes Coun. Eggleton.
The move is aimed at cutting greenhouse emissions in the Big Smoke.
Coun. Dean Pappas has often used his position on council to fight for environmental issues.
“I’d like to sit down and talk to the director of public services about this (banning City vehicles from drive-thrus). I like to lead by example and if we’re wasting time, idling, waiting for a coffee, that’s taxpayers’ dollars. It’s not a bad idea.”
But Coun. Eggleton says the public has a responsibility too with regard to the environment.
“We expect the public to think twice about using the drive-thrus. People may come up with what they see as all these small steps, but all these steps make a difference at the end.”



Councillor Shirley Eggleton is continuing her campaign for clean air, asking staff to do up a second report on the usage of drive-thrus.

The focus this time is on employees who drive City owned vehicles.
Coun. Eggleton wants to ban the vehicles from being allowed to go through any drive-thrus.
Her motion was passed at Monday’s (Feb. 25) Committee of the Whole meeting at City Hall.
Staff is already working on a report on drive-thrus, looking at whether there’s any way to regulate them.
Also during Monday’s meeting, councillors agreed to forgive $204,900 of a loan granted in 1993 to the Peterborough Lion’s Club.
The Club received a total of $350,000 for its community centre on Burnham Street but it hasn’t been able to make a payment on the loan since 2002.
The City would also designate the centre as a municipal capital facility.
A review of the Community Centre’s annual audited statements from 2002 to 2006  shows an average annual operating deficit of $31,920.
All decisions need final approval at next week’s full Council meeting.
Other decisions at the Committee of the Whole meeting are:
• A report was received to let Council know that it cost $155,175.19 for emergency repairs done to the Jackson Creek culvert under the Simcoe Street  Parking Garage. The damage was a result of the 2004 flood.
• The tender for the supply, delivery and installation of equipment at  the Wastewater Treatment Plant was awarded to Peak Engineering and Construction of Brighton at a cost of $839,475.
• The tender to upgrade sport field lighting on Hogan Pitch of Eastgate Memorial Park was awarded to  Tri-Line Electric Ltd., of 785 The Kingsway for a value of $204,750.        
• Received a report on City investments which shows that over the course of the year the average cash and investment balance was $87.6 million, compared to $77.8 million in 2006. In all, 353 separate investments were made, total interest earned was $4.09 million. The overall rate of return was 4.65 per cent.
• Agreed to look into buying software that would save the City considerable time and money in putting together agendas for the various meetings at City Hall. Clerk Nancy Wright-Laking told councillors it is a step that will make it easier when, in the future, Council wants to get rid of paper agendas in favour of e-agendas.

Improving air quality needs action, not words

Comment on this article




(Letters) Tuesday, 26 February 2008, 20:00 PST


The latest air quality advisory for Prince George takes me back to two years ago when I wrote a similar letter for a similar situation.

Two years and nothing has changed. Oh yes, I forgot, there is now "political will" to improve our air quality.

Two years to develop political will, but no action. There are lots of plans on paper and there certainly has been discussion, but no tangible improvements to our air quality. Not to discount the asphalt plant struggle, the North Nechako residents did an amazing job. But the asphalt plants are not running right now.

At our recent Cleaner Air Symposium we heard from Dr. Catherine Elliott how many air-pollution-related deaths in our region are preventable. Municipal and provincial governments and each individual has it within our power to prevent deaths. What other motivating factor do we need?

I wonder if industry implemented air pollution reduction strategies when the first day of an air quality advisory went into effect? Did all outdoor burning cease? Did people who need to burn wood for heat use the best burning practices? What a good idea if businesses with a drive-thru closed their drive-thrus on air quality advisory days.

PACHA’s membership has just reached 1,000. Many of the members are business people in Prince George. They want their businesses and families to flourish. For that to happen we need to improve Prince George’s air quality.

We need action, not just words. Please, Prince George, I hope I’m not writing a similar letter in two more years.

Betty Bekkering, director, PACHA

Prince George



(Letters) Thursday, 21 February 2008, 17:43 PST

— Loreen Obst Prince George   

I feel sorry for the people who work or live next to the establishments with drive-thrus who are breathing the fumes of the non stop line up of idling cars.

I understand the mom or dad who drive thru because they don’t want to pack all the kids in or anyone handicapped or in poor health, or the safety factor at night time, but what kind of example are we setting (we tell kids to be active) when we can’t even get out of the car to buy a cup of coffee?

And even worse – drive thru banking? Sorry, can’t imagine that that one is even safe.

I remember the drive-in restaurants, namely Dog ‘N’ Suds where they had the best Coney chips, foot-longs and ice cream floats. The difference was we turned our cars off.

In no way is this letter an intent to slam these establishments — I only wish I would have thought of it — but I would not have had drive-thrus.

I just want the lone person in their car next time they are contemplating the drive-thru instead of running in to ask themselves: Is the cost to the environment worth the convenience of the drive-thru?

— Loreen Obst

Prince George


Tue Feb 19, 2008

AJAX — The Town is going to study drive-thrus, with one of the aims being to limit the number of them.

Wards 3 and 4 Regional Councillor Colleen Jordan, who in the past has been critical of the number of drive-thrus in the community, asked for the study, pointing to air pollution created by idling vehicles, litter and the safety of citizens as they try walking near drive-thrus.

Speaking at council on Monday, Coun. Jordan said Toronto and Ottawa have developed guidelines for drive-thrus, while "Mississauga, they too are beginning to look at drive-thrus and the problems they have encountered."

Ajax council last term limited the number of drive-thrus in the downtown area.

There are about 1,700 premature deaths due to air pollution each year, with 6,000 more people admitted to hospital, she stated. "We need to do all we can."

Planning and development director Paul Allore said staff will carry out the work and it will be done in tandem with the Official Plan review. There will also be an opportunity for public input.

"We’re not talking about prohibiting them," Mr. Allore said.

Rather, regulations would be developed for existing drive-thrus and new ones, he added.

The ban only applies to the downtown area. "In other areas, we would apply the guidelines. This will provide teeth and regulatory reform," he stated.

As for lifting the ban in the downtown, Mr. Allore said, "That’s not something we’re anticipating. This will look at regulations and good planning for new drive-thrus."

Brian Johnson, one of the candidates in the Ward 2 byelection, questioned the use of "Town resources and the allocation of staff," noting a recent survey by the Town found the issue wasn’t important to residents. "Nowhere in the top 15 was this."

It would be "inevitable" that consultants would be retained to help with the study, he added.

"The wording seems to lead staff to a conclusion. For lack of a better way to put it, this screams ‘I hate drive-thrus’," he said.

Wards 1 and 2 Regional Councillor Scott Crawford said, "Drive-thrus are such an integral part of how people move around.

"I don’t see this as a ban, but to create a set of rules to play by," Coun. Crawford stated. "I may not agree with the end results, but I’m willing to look at it," he added

Drive-through ban eyed for city vehicles


Feb 15, 2008 04:30 AM

Staff Reporters

Going through the drive-through for that morning cup of coffee could become a banned ritual for City of Toronto employees.

"Idling a vehicle when you’re not driving wastes fuel. It wastes money. It’s unnecessary carbon emissions," said Sarah Gingrich, a business analyst with fleet services. "We want to explore whether (a ban) is possible, is it beneficial, and how would we go about it."

The idea is one of 38 recommendations in a "green fleet" plan endorsed by the city management committee yesterday that will go to city council next month.

Last June, the city enacted a policy requiring employees driving city vehicles to turn off the engine when stopped for more than 10 seconds.

The city estimates that if all the drivers of its 4,700 vehicles followed the no-drive-through rule, emissions would be reduced by 2,100 tonnes a year, the equivalent of taking 486 passenger vehicles off the road. (The fleet does not include police or other emergency vehicles.)

Gingrich said the city has no data on how much fuel has been saved by the no-idling rule so far, but it has received fewer complaints from the public about idling city vehicles.

Brian Cochrane, president of CUPE Local 416, called a ban on drive-through use "a little bizarre" aid said he wondered how efficient it would be to require staff to go into a restaurant to eat.

"It will take more time out of the work day. I don’t see it as a particularly productive situation," Cochrane said, adding that many of the city’s trucks are too big to even go through a drive-through.

He said he would be prepared to consider the idea as long as management would not penalize staffers over lost time.

More skepticism might come from the drive-through industry. Tim Hortons commissioned a study last fall that found drive-through restaurants are better environmentally than those without them.

"It’s surprising," admitted Tim’s spokesperson Nick Javor, of the study done by RWDI Consultants in Guelph. The findings have been presented to a city committee in London, Ont., which was considering a ban on new drive-throughs.

He said two major factors contribute to the results: People who plan to park first have to drive around looking for a spot. Then, restarting the engine minutes later produces a puff of emissions.

"That all contributes 20 per cent more smog pollutants and 60 per cent more greenhouse gases than a restaurant without a drive-through," he contended.

The study, which is being peer-reviewed and will be published this spring, was based on a combination of computer modelling and actual traffic counts, Javor said. Customers were timed for how long they spent on the property, both looking for a spot or at the window.

At rush hour it can take four or five minutes of idling to get through the drive-through, but picking up a quick coffee at a suburban location can take as little as 20 or 30 seconds.

Nationally, about half of Tim Horton’s business is done at the drive-through. At McDonalds, it’s more than 60 per cent, according to spokesperson Ron Christianson, who added that drive-throughs "are pretty important to some customer segments"like parents of young children and people who want to stay in the car when it’s dark or stormy.

Katrina Miller, of Toronto Environmental Alliance, declined to comment on the specific recommendation in Toronto. But she said that generally, "Drive-throughs have no place in a city with 30 to 40 smog days a year."

She noted that her group favours a city-wide policy banning new drive-through operations and restrictions on existing ones.



Ban drive throughs and solve traffic problems

The city is planning to extend Pine Street to address traffic issues on Great Northern Road between Northern Avenue and Second Line.

Millions of dollars will be wasted on this project and valuable pristine green space will be sacrificed for the almighty car. It will increase traffic on Pine Street affecting quality of life and decreasing property values for area residents.

The irony is that it will not solve the problem of congestion on Great Northern Road.

Current research in traffic engineering suggests that the only long-term solution to traffic congestion is to use methods that reduce the number of cars on the road rather than making more roads for more cars. More roads makes it easier to drive, which encourages more people to drive and the "solution" becomes the problem.

Cities such as London, Paris, New York, Vancouver, Ottawa and Seattle understand that the only way to address traffic congestion is to make it more difficult and expensive to drive, while creating facilities that encourage people to walk, cycle and use public transit.

There is a very simple free solution to the Great Northern Road "traffic congestion" problem: eliminate drive throughs. Money saved from not extending Pine Street could be used to make the area friendlier to pedestrians and cyclists. This would encourage people to walk or cycle instead of driving to go to the various eating establishments on this stretch of road.

It’s not really a new idea as you don’t see drive throughs on Yonge Street in Toronto because of the traffic problems they create.

Drive throughs are being banned in many cities in North America for the same reason.

Eliminating drive throughs in Sault Ste. Marie would be a no-cost solution to the Great Northern Road and many other traffic problem areas in our city.

Andre Riopel,

Case Road