Canadian cities aim to idle drive-thrus

Published: February 10. 2008 6:00AM


Drive-thrus have become controversial in Canada, where politicians in several cities have voted to stop to their construction.

Toronto and Vancouver have instituted bans on building new drive-thru coffee shops and created strict regulations on building drive-thrus in residential, mixed commercial-residential areas and some pedestrian areas.

Other cities, including Hamilton and North Vancouver, are considering similar regulations.

Officials who are proponents of the bans say that bans of drive-thrus would improve air quality by reducing the number of idling cars.

Lobbying against such regulations are the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association and Tim Hortons, a Canadian coffee and donut chain that has migrated south to the United States, including locations in Erie.

Tim Hortons commissioned a study that showed a car idling at a drive-thru is less harmful to the environment than a car that is turned on and off again in a parking lot.

The Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association has pointed out that circling a city block looking for a parking space will also negate any pollution reductions.

Officials who oppose the ban also note that drive-thrus are not just convenient but a help to those with limited mobility or parents driving with children.

The Ontario Municipal Board agreed, ruling against a decision by the Ottawa Municipal Board to ban drive-thrus there because of the benefit of drive-thrus to the elderly and handicapped.

But some politicians think it’s time to put an end to the drive-thru.

"We are the generation that created the drive-thru, and we should be the generation that says, ‘Enough is enough,’" Sarnia councilwoman Anne Marie Gillis told the Sarnia Observer.

— Kara Rhodes

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