Council keen on green; Ban on future drive-thrus, turning off lights for ‘earth hour’ on the agenda

Posted By CATHY DOBSON

Posted 6 hours ago

New drive-thru businesses and brightly lit parking lots will be outlawed in Sarnia if Coun. Anne Marie Gillis has her way.

"If you can’t get out of your car to go and get your cup of coffee, but can sit in the car for 15 minutes and leave it idling, you’re defeating the purpose of what we’re trying to do with clean air," Gillis said at Monday’s council meeting.

She wants Sarnia to follow the example of Toronto and Vancouver where new drive-thru coffee shops are banned, although existing ones are allowed to remain.

"We are the generation that created the drive-thru and we should be the generation that says ‘enough is enough,’" Gillis said.

She told reporters she’s disappointed Sarnia does not have an anti-idling bylaw and said she will push for laws to improve air quality.

At Gillis’ request, council agreed that a ban of future drive-thru businesses should be considered this year as the city reviews commercial aspects of its official plan.

Planning director Mike Schnare said a public meeting is scheduled in March to discuss commercial official plan issues.

The idea of banning drive-thru coffee shops is a controversial one being examined by several other cities, Schnare said. "Obviously, it’s opposed by the industry."

Council also tackled Mayor Mike Bradley’s proposal for Sarnia to join other cities around the world and turn off the lights during Earth Hour between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on March 29.

Bradley received council’s support to urge all local residents to flick the switch off and assist in combating climate change.

Last year, Sydney Australia held the first Earth Hour and 60,000 households participated. Electricity in that city fell 10.2 per cent in that single hour.

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Bradley said he’ll be happy if Sarnia can achieve a five per cent cut.

"It’s a way for people to show they care about the environment," he said.

City arenas and street lights will still function.

Coun. Andy Bruziewicz asked the mayor why city hall sometimes has lights on at night.

"They may be on in my office because I’m there," Bradley answered.

"At 2 o’clock in the morning?" Bruziewicz countered.

"Yes, I come back at night," Bradley said.

In voicing support for Earth Hour, Gillis said she wants the concept to go further.

"We should ask the school boards to be a part of this. It seems there are a lot of lights on in the schools when you go past at night," she said.

She received council’s support to have staff report on setting standards for the lighting in parking lots.

Many public and private lots are lit up as though they were prepared "for the landing of a 747," Gillis said. "It’s overkill."

She brought forward a third environmentally-related issue on Monday, repeating concerns from local residents who have noticed an aggressive noxious weed taking root in Canatara Park.

Garlic mustard, also known as jack-by-the-hedge or poor man’s mustard, is spreading along Lakeshore Road and is covering the area known as Tarzanland near the park, Gillis said.

"I don’t want to use pesticide on it but we have to find a way to deal with it now or it will be 10 times worse."

Left unchecked, garlic mustard competes with native wildflowers, stealing light, moisture, nutrients, soil and space.

The city’s community services department intends to bring together a large group of volunteers in the early spring to manually remove the invasive weeds.

 

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