Drive-thrus offer food for thought

Local News

Drive-thrus offer food for thought



Posted 15 hours ago

Drive-thru businesses are a convenience for thousands of Sarnians and not as bad for the environment as some might believe, says a report going to city council Monday.

At the urging of Coun. Anne Marie Gillis, staff reviewed the pros and cons of a ban or moratorium on drive-thru operations including fast food restaurants, coffee shops, banks, car washes and lube centres.

Gillis has suggested the public is ready for a ban because of its sensitivity to air quality issues. All that engine idling while customers wait for a coffee can’t be good for the environment, she said.

But a staff report does not support a ban. Instead, policy planner Nancy Bourgeois suggests council approve new urban design guidelines that make drive-thrus more environmentally friendly.

In the report, Bourgeois cites an air quality assessment of Tim Hortons restaurants that was done by an independent consultant in Guelph last year.

Three Tim Hortons with drive-thrus and one without were monitored for emissions. Total emissions were less at a typical, high-volume Tim Hortons with a drive-thru and parking lots, than they were at the site without a drive-thru.

Bourgeois suggests that council consider numerous regulatory provisions including improved site designs to separate the drive-thru lane from the parking area.

She also has numerous suggestions about how to make drive-thrus safer for the public and faster so that traffic moves along.

“The industry needs to look at how long it takes to get through a drive-thru,” Mayor Mike Bradley said.

“I think staff has a good solution. No moratorium, but steps that should be taken for better care and control of drive-thrus.

“There are 45 drive-thrus in Sarnia and people like to use them,” Bradley said. “I think this is a more balanced approach.

The environment is a significant issue and we should push business to plan better.”

He noted that parents with small children, the elderly and the disabled have spoken out in support of drive-thrus.

The issue goes before council at Monday’s regular meeting, which starts at 4 p. m.

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