POV – Drive-through issue about improving city

Comment on this article: http://www.lfpress.com/cgi-bin/publish.cgi?s=letters&x=letters&search=yes&s_letter_type=POV

POV – Point of View

drive-thru
Drive-through issue about improving city


Let’s get it straight from the beginning: London city hall is not proposing a “ban” on drive-through restaurants. Staff merely want to clarify in the official plan what zoning bylaws already prevent.

We can debate noise and litter and air pollution problems associated with drive-through windows or we can use common sense. We can agree in some neighbourhoods, those issues rear their ugly heads and cause headaches for council and staff.

We can agree that before we build more drive-through restaurants in new areas, we should all try to learn a little more about how to make them work best for all of us.

It’s a perfectly reasonable goal.

All the talk of a ban, of impugning democracy, of a campaign against people with disabilities, or of mothers with children in vans — well, it’s a bit much, isn’t it? Tim Hortons employees are wearing T-shirts protesting the “ban” and handing out leaflets saying the “ban” won’t help the environment.

A decision to delay a public meeting because it was deemed unsafe and overcrowded has turned into a ridiculous debate about procedure and who did what and when.

But in the end, the so-called “ban” is nothing of the sort. It’s a move to prohibit drive-throughs in intensive business and pedestrian-oriented areas such as downtown London, Wortley Village, Old East village, Richmond Row or Byron.

It won’t result in the closing of those already in existence. (Of 154 in the city now, 16 locations don’t comply, but they’d be grandfathered.) And besides, the staff recommendation simply puts in the official plan what is already prevented by zoning bylaws.

It is not sending a message that London is not interested in investment.

It sends a message that London is for people above all else. We all want to make London the best, most livable city in the world. That is the message we should and can send to potential investors.

It doesn’t mean there isn’t room for investment, for developers, for retailers, for motorists and for people who like to eat in their cars. It simply is a reminder that the city belongs to all of us, and that we should all have a say, and try to work together. That’s democracy.

POSTED BY: Paul Berton, National Comment Editor
POSTED ON: June 21, 2008

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

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