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

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