Cities consider death of the drive-thru

By SUSAN SHERRING

http://ottsun.canoe.ca/News/OttawaAndRegion/2008/01/29/4799188-sun.html

Will Ottawans craving a juicy Big Mac, extra-large fries and a chocolate shake one day be forced to actually walk the walk to load up on those extra carbs instead of enjoying the convenience of the drive-thru?

That’s what they’re talking about in Edmonton, where the car rules supreme.

The belief is banning drive-thrus would send fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

A ban on your friendly drive-thru might seem like heresy in a town where people can’t live without their Tim Hortons, but the idea appears to be gathering some momentum, not just in Edmonton, but in other parts of Canada and the United States as well.

And more than one Ottawa councillor contacted yesterday believes the day will come when drive-thrus simply won’t be welcome in the nation’s capital either.

"Do you really need drive-thrus? It’s become part of the culture in Canada. How do you change that — over time or drastically?" asked Alta Vista Coun. Peter Hume, the chairman of the planning committee, pointing to a section of Bank St. where drive-thrus are prohibited, but a number of coffee shops thrive.

"They seem to be surviving without a drive-thru. It’s the old convenience factor. But we don’t qualify the cost of that convenience to the quality of our life," he said.

‘IT’S COMING’

"It’s heartening to find a very conservative place like Edmonton considering this. Of course, a change of this magnitude takes time. I think this is more of an evolving thing."

Bay Coun. Alex Cullen also believes an outright ban on drive-thrus will eventually come to pass.

"It’s coming. It’s definitely coming," said Cullen, adding their demise will be hastened by the continuing rise of oil prices and an increased concern over the environment.

"The day of the drive-thru is going the way of the day of the dodo bird."

Of course, not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon.

No way, says Orleans Coun. Bob Monette.

"I didn’t support the idling bylaw. And you can be sure I wouldn’t support that initiative," he said.

What? Does the east-end councillor not want to help the environment?

"I don’t like the controls people put on other people’s lives. Education, not enforcement, is always the best way," Monette said.

Not even Capital Coun. Clive Doucet, the anti-car politician on council, is signing up for the idea.

"It’s addressing the symptom, not the problem. If there’s no need for them, you don’t have to ban them," Doucet said.

Richard Kilstrom, the city’s manager of community planning and design, said there are already restrictions on drive-thrus in certain parts of the city, including traditional main streets, like part of Bank St. and Richmond Rd. in Westboro, where drive-thrus are prohibited.

"Drive-thrus, like gas stations, prohibit pedestrian use of the street," Kilstrom said.

INCREMENTAL CHANGE

In the Official Plan, there’s also some consideration against drive-thrus in mixed-use areas, like Tunney’s Pasture and Confederation Heights.

Kilstrom said he doesn’t believe a ban is right around the corner.

"I don’t know if it will go that far, maybe 100 years from now. It’s incremental. As society changes, a lot of land use changes.

"There was a time we wouldn’t have thought twice about putting a drive-thru in a neighbourhood."

There’s no doubt that big businesses like Tim Hortons would fight any initiative to cut into their business, said Cullen, much as they were concerned during Ottawa’s anti-idling debate.

Mark von Schellwitz, with the Canadian Restaurant and Food Service Association, told the Edmonton Sun that lawmakers shouldn’t make any rash decisions.

"It’s very clear the absence of drive-thrus would have serious implications for people who see service windows as a vital convenience," he said.

"You look at parents with small children, people with disabilities, elderly patrons and people who want to stay in the safety of their vehicle when they’re getting a bite to eat late at night."

Any ban would grandfather existing establishments, said Kilstrom.

 

 

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