What They Are Saying About Madison: “This drive-thru world, it just ain’t right”

Current | Politics | WTASA

The Beastie Boys once said “This drive-thru world it just ain’t right” and a Madison Plan Commission member seems to be taking that nugget of wisdom literally. Visitors to the front page of Drudge Report yesterday were greeted with a top right column link declaring: “Wisconsin city may ban restaurant drive-throughs over global warming concerns…” Madison on Drudge, always a good thing, let the bloviating begin.

The story, according to Mike Ivey over at the Cap Times, is that during a recent Plan Commission meeting Eric Sundquist suggested that the city have stricter regulations on drive-thrus in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles idling as they wait for food or coffee. This suggestion came during a discussion regarding a new Starbucks that seeks to open at a heavily congested section of East Washington Ave. Two key points seemingly missed by many, but written very clearly in Ivey’s article.

1) The Plan Commission is not considering a ban or the tighter regulations at this time. It was simply brought up by Sundquist.

2) Sundquist does plan to bring the tighter drive-thru regulations up with the Long Range Transportation Planning Commission, but has not yet done so.


Calgary drops drive throughs from one redevelopment plan – Drive-thrus not ‘viable’ for strong communities, says alderman

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 10:54 AM MT

CBC News

A recent move by Calgary city council to omit drive-thrus from one redevelopment plan should happen more often, says one alderman.

Last week, city council left out drive-thrus when it approved a new area structure plan — which dictates what kinds of businesses, retail and housing are allowed — for the 10 blocks around the Chinook LRT station.

The area in south Calgary already includes drive-thrus for banks and fast-food restaurants, but the plan means no new ones are allowed. It’s part of the city’s policy to increase density around transit stations and promote those areas as pedestrian-friendly.

Ald. Brian Pincott says he’d like to see the same policy applied to the rest of the city.

“The more that we build community — and drive-thrus are part of this — that keeps people separated, segregated from each other, the less viable our community is,” he said Tuesday.

The Ward 11 councillor says a bylaw banning drive-thrus is not in the works, but he’d like to see them eventually disappear, “to make sure we’re actually building community again and getting people out of their cars, forcing people to interact with each other.”

But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the city shouldn’t interfere in the way people want to do their business.

“To just make some blanket statement that for some reason drive-thrus are inherently unviable, that’s really not a government decision,” said Danielle Smith, the group’s Alberta director.

The drive-thru window is a big part of business at CB Drive Inn in northwest Calgary. Owner Young Lee says a drive-thru ban wouldn’t kill his burger outlet, but some of his customers hate the idea.

“I’d have to do it the old way. And I enjoy doing the drive-thru,” said Michele Walgenbach. “It’s a lot quicker. I enjoy it. It’s convenient.”

Other Canadian municipalities have considered banning drive-thrus for environmental reasons.

Letters to Editor – June 21st 2008

Letters to Editor

UNLESS otherwise noted, these letters are to be considered unedited. The opinions expressed in the letters and comments are those of the writers and not of The London Free Press.

‘Ban’ talk instills fear in drive-through workers
Tim Hortons’ senior vice-president Nick Javor voiced his disappointment that Tuesday evening’s planning meeting was cancelled saying he was looking forward to “sharing the correct science” on fast food drive-throughs. (Overflow crowd forces postponement of drive-through meeting, June 17.)

If he was sincere about his quest for “correct science” and truth, he would stop fear-mongering about a “ban” on drive-throughs. The gallery at city hall was packed with restaurant staff, many of whom came fearing they would lose their jobs if a “ban” was approved.

The fact is, what is being considered is a moratorium on the approval of any new facilities with a drive-through component. The planning committee and ultimately council will also be considering long-overdue staff recommendations that are consistent with the desire to make these establishments more hospitable with the communities in which they do their business. All of these recommendations are more than reasonable — many other municipalities have similar regulations.

Further, restricting the growth of drive-throughs is an obvious and eminently sensible planning approach when thinking about ways to reduce our society’s carbon footprint, our dependency on oil and our addiction to the automobile.

The purposeful manipulation of what is at stake here is a disservice to the entire community and erodes the ability of council to obtain meaningful input on an important issue.

Finally, on the subject of the “correct science” coming from the industry, all of the advertising and spin in the world cannot obscure the fact that building more drive-throughs is wasteful, polluting and (for the vast majority of people) unnecessary. There is a well-documented history of PR-spin given to anti-environmental activities; it’s called greenwash. The suggestions that line-ups of idling cars are environmentally benign and socially necessary are simply preposterous.

POSTED BY: Jennifer Gilbert, London
POSTED ON: June 21, 2008

EDITORS NOTE: As published in The London Free Press on June 21, 2008

Drive-through t-shirts
How disturbing this morning to see some corporation make their minimum-wage employees wear a biased opinion on their chests! Independent of how we might feel about the proposed drive-through ban, don’t you think it’s pretty disgusting that these kids are forced to promote their employer’s point of view? Let us have our own opinions! Stay human!

POSTED BY: Eric Chorostecki, London
POSTED ON: June 21, 2008

Drive thru ban
There are other communities that have been able to convince the large national retail chains to develop and do business in a way that fits the location into the motif of the street.

St Jacob’s, Ontario and West Vancouver, BC have successfully told the big boys (and girls) “if you are going to do business here, you are going to build according to the decor and other stipulations put down by the municipality.

If the larger retailers want to do business here —and they do because they want to make money — they can be asked to comply with local rules. We do not have to prostitute ourselves and our community by claiming the sky is falling every time a major retailer wants it their way and tries to throw its weight around.

POSTED BY: Chuck Dungey, London
POSTED ON: June 21, 2008

Lack of Responsible Corporate Citizenship Demonstated Yet Again

More ‘progress’ to look forward to in the midst of climate change:

Speaking from Experience

By Linda Lisanti

One retailer that’s got the drive-thru formula down is Swiss Farms, a hybrid c-store and supermarket that offers drive-thru service only. The chain has 12 locations in Pennsylvania, and is currently recruiting operators to open its first franchise stores next year.

Swiss Farms stores have a dual lane drive-thru — one lane on either side with the store in the center. The left lane allows customers to have their groceries loaded directly into their car. Shoppers check off their order on one of two item lists, either handed to them in-person by an associate or downloaded from the chain’s Web site.

The Fast 50 list features the most popular products, such as beverages, milk, dairy and bread. The Swiss List is a two-page, comprehensive listing of all the store’s items, including prepared foods for breakfast, lunch or dinner, ice cream, snacks and newspapers.

Swiss Farms’ director of operations, Rob Coldwell, is a proponent of keeping the product offering limited. Swiss Farms stores stock about 400 SKUs. “You can’t be everything to everybody,” he said, warning that retailers also have to be careful because what customers say they’ll buy at a drive-thru isn’t always the case. For instance, moms have indicated they’ll buy diapers, but Coldwell said he’s yet to see the upshot.

Unlike in the traditional c-store setting, drive-thrus don’t attract huge sales of candy and gum, or carbonated soft drinks. People need to see the variety in those categories to be compelled to buy them, Coldwell noted. Instead, he said the most frequent drive-thru purchases include milk, butter, bread, eggs and large take-home snack bags.

Swiss Farms has found the drive-thru affords several advantages in delivering convenience to the consumer — the service is “lightning fast,” but not so fast the customer feels hurried; it’s great for all kinds of weather; the elderly, new moms and commuters love being able to stay in their cars; and there’s a higher quality of interaction with customers because they are dependent on the associate. “It’s a barbershop feel,” as Coldwell put it.

The biggest challenge to a drive-thru, he said, is changing people’s habits when they’re not used to buying these types of products in a drive-thru setting. To try and overcome this, the company’s stores started selling coffee and prepared foods within the last few years since people are more accustomed to purchasing these items from their cars.

Above all else, though, Coldwell insisted convenience stores should not try to tackle drive-thru like the quick-serve restaurants do drive-thru — through a “squawk box.” At Swiss Farms, customers place orders by speaking directly to personnel at a service door.

“It’s not easy. You need to break people’s habits, and people are naturally creatures of habit,” Coldwell explained. “You can’t do it through a squawk box, it doesn’t work. Customers want to see the [employee], see their products being placed in a bag … We’re constantly working to make it a friendlier and easier shopping experience.”



June 17th, 2008

Dear Members of London’s Planning Committee,

I am writing you today to urge you to support the “Clean Air for Children” campaign to institute a moratorium on new drive-thrus in London, Ontario. In September 2002, Toronto City Council took a courageous stand for the well-being of its residents when it backed my call for a ban on drive-thrus within 30 metres or 100 feet of residential zoned areas. The city-wide ban was inspired by a fight in the midtown Toronto neighbourhood that I represent to stop an individual McDonald’s franchisee’s plans to build a drive-thru at its existing restaurant at St. Clair & Christie.

At the time, such a city-wide ban, using planning restrictions, was a model for other jurisdictions that wished to protect the integrity and pedestrian nature of residentially-zoned areas and concerned with the harm to our air quality caused by idling cars in cue at these drive-thru facilities.

London has a chance to be an environmental leader, by surpassing Toronto’s legislation and adopting a full moratorium on new applications. The fast-food industry lobby is stubborn and well-funded, but the courts have proven in Toronto’s case that municipalities can legislate against these kinds of harmful facilities. I encourage you to make the decision that will best protect the health and well-being of your residents and adopt a full moratorium on drive-thrus in London.


Joe Mihevc

Toronto City Councillor

Chair, Community Development & Recreation Committee

Vice-Chair, Toronto Transit Commission

Gordon McBean, appointed member of Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council and world renowned climatologist for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

Drive-thru Moratorium

Gordon McBean, appointed member of Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council and world renowned climatologist for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction urge the city to take action on all ways of reducing emissions as part of national and global efforts to combat climate change.

17 June 2008

London City Council

Subject: Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

I would like to provide the following comments in the context of the Drive-thru debate in the City of London.  Unfortunately, I am unable to be there to make these comments in person

I have been a climate scientist for over 30 years and have held faculty and senior governmental positions related to this topic.

I am pleased that the City of London has a Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council, of which I am a member, and recently approved a $1.3-million study of London’s climate change strategy.  These demonstrate the concern and commitment of the City for the issue of climate change.

Climate science has demonstrated that the climate is changing and will continue to change over the rest of this century due to greenhouse gas emission from human activities – primarily the use of fossil fuels.  The magnitude of the change by mid-to-late century depends on total anthropogenic emissions.  New scientific information is demonstrating that dramatic reductions in emissions are needed to avoid dangerous climatic change.

One of the major contributors to Canada’s greenhouse gas emission total is road transportation.

I urge the City of London to consider and to take action on all ways of reducing emissions as part of national and global efforts to combat climate change.  This will also have the additional benefit of reducing urban smog which affects the health of Londoners and all Ontarians.

Respectfully submitted.

Gordon McBean, Ph.D., FRSC

Professor of Geography and Political Science

Director of Policy Studies, The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada



MEDIA ADVISORY                                                              DATE: June 16th, 2008

In solidarity with local environmental activist groups, Greenpeace Canada, will urge the City of London to lead on climate change by imposing Canada’s first moratorium on all new drive-thrus.

In a campaign launched by Maude Barlow’s Council of Canadians | London Chapter, the issue on a drive-thru moratorium has quickly become a hot topic across the nation.  Today the industry launched a glossy campaign in an attempt to ‘put out fires’ on an issue that garners more and more support as climate change continues to accelerate out of control.  World experts call for an 80% reduction in emissions before the year 2050 if we are to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

The debate will take place Tuesday, June 17th at 7pm at city hall.

Activists, students and citizens concerned about air pollution and climate change will hear a presentation by Bruce Cox, Executive Director of Greenpeace Canada.  Individuals will also hear representation from esteemed organizations such as CAPE (Canadian Physicians for the Environment) and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction. Gordon McBean, appointed member of Mayor’s Sustainable Energy Council and  world renown climatologist for the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction urge the city to take action on all ways of reducing emissions as part of national and global efforts to combat climate change.

London currently has approx. 150 drive-thrus and many thousands of vehicles line up everyday spewing unnecessary pollution into the environment.

Environmentalists and Canada’s fast-food empires collided head-on at London city hall on May 26th, as politicians considered whether to limit or even ban new drive-thrus. 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. 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-thus.

Statistics: Eight thousand people a day die from air pollution. There are 3 million annual deaths, worldwide. In Canada toxic emissions from transportation continue to rise drastically. Vehicles are the primary sources of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, particulates and benzene, a carcinogen. In the past 15 years alone, there has been a fourfold increase in asthma in children under 15 in Canada. In fact, the Ontario Medical Association estimated that health care costs caused by poor air quality in 2000 would amount to nearly $630 million, not to mention the $566 million in costs due to workers taking sick days.

We are in a world wide public health crisis epidemic as a direct result of air pollution amidst a climate change crisis that threatens human survival on this earth – expanding services which promote unnecessary idling for convenience is not only reckless and irresponsible – it is the absolute opposite direction we need to be taking.


For more information:

Cory Morningstar | President | London Chapter | Council of Canadians | Environment & Climate Change Committee councilofcanadians.london@sympatico.ca

Kevin Lomack | Membership Coordinator | London Chapter | Council of Canadians | Environment & Climate Change Committee | 519-872-0978

Bruce Cox | Executive Director | Greenpeace Canada | (416) 597-8408 Ext. 3012


This Joint Call To Action Is Also Issued By The Following Organizations:

* Campaign for Clean Air in London’ [England]

* Campbell River, B.C. CoC Chapter

* Coquitlam Greendrinks British Columbia

* Deeper Shade of Green – British Columbia

* Fanshawe Social Justice Club

* Frank de Jong – Leader of Green Party Ontario

* Great Lakes United

* London and District Labour Council

* London Project for a Participatory Society

* London West NDP Riding Association

* LOVE – London Organization of Vegetarians for the Environment

* M E M E S – Movement of Environmental Minimalists Embracing Sustainability

* Maude Barlow – Council of Canadians – National Chairperson

* New Westminster B.C. CoC Chapter

* Peterborough – Kawarthas CoC Chapter

* Post Carbon London

* Regina SK CoC Chapter

* Surrey, Langley and White Rock CoC Chapter – British Columbia

* TREA – Thames Regional Ecological Association

* Waste Free World London

* Whistler B.C CoC Chapter

* Windsor CoC Chapter

The Advisory Committee on the Environment to the City of London also advises the city to impose a moratorium on new drive-thrus.