Fast-food chains, activists clash on drive-throughs

Fast-food chains, activists clash on drive-throughs

Tue, May 27, 2008


Environmentalists and Canada’s fast-food empires collided head-on at London city hall last night, as politicians considered whether to limit or even ban new drive-throughs.

City planners say they’ve proposed modest changes that will clarify, not change, where drive-throughs can be built.

But their massive report, more than 300 pages, drew heated responses from a fast-food industry that says city staff have gone too far and community activists who say they haven’t gone far enough.

At a public participation meeting of the city’s planning committee, Tim Hortons, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and A&W served up a team of critics that included Ontario’s largest restaurant association, an engineering consultant and a lawyer who fought drive-through restrictions in Ottawa.

All attacked the report by the city’s staff as based on opinion rather than fact.

A study by Tim Hortons shows that during the day’s busiest hour, less auto emissions were produced at each of three drive-throughs than at one parking-only store, said study author Michael Lepage.

“Banning drive-throughs make pollution worse,” said Michelle Saunders of the Omtario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association.

Industry and the Tim Hortons’ study drew a heated rebuttle from the Council of Canadians and the London District Labour Council, both of which called for a moratorium on new drive-throughs.

“I’m . . . speaking on behalf of every child on the planet. I have no lawyer or team of experts but come with my integrity intact,” said Cory Morningstar, head of the London chapter of the Council of Canadians.

While the Council of Canadians had no lawyer, local activist and lawyer Sam Trosow spoke, challenging claims by an industry lawyer that changes being contemplated by London would be quashed by legal action.

The public meeting will resume when the planning committee meets June 16.


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