Changes adopted on drive-throughs

By KATHERINA DEHAAS

A bid to re-open London’s drive-through dust-up on environmental grounds failed at city council last night.

City planning staff had proposed new restrictions on the locations of the fast-food eateries before a massive industry campaign against the move was mounted this spring.

Last week, at a public input meeting of council’s planning committee, a revised plan was accepted — one that would require a business wanting a drive-through in a controlled area to seek a zoning change.

The alternative, as first proposed, had been to write restrictions on locations into the city’s official plan, its blueprint for growth that is tough to change.

Activists who wanted to be heard on the environmental fallout of drive-throughs were told at last week’s input meeting to take their concerns elsewhere, that the planning committee dealt with land issues.

Last night, Coun. David Winninger suggested the issue be sent back to the planning committee, citing environmental concerns.

“We have the second worst air-quality in Ontario,” he said. “Why we defer CO2 to another committee, to another day, is beyond me.”

He compared the drive-through debate to such past issues as whether to ban smoking in public places and to restrict cosmetic use of pesticides, saying he can’t support the recommendations.

“The health and safety effects are too significant.”

He asked more research be done before council is asked to vote on the planning committee’s recommendations.

Coun. Susan Eagle backed the bid for a referral to consider environmental aspects. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right, let’s do it once.”

The move to send the issue back failed in a 14-5 vote, and council accepted the recommendations that came out of last week’s planning meeting.

Council’s environment and transportation committee will review the health aspects of drive-throughs this fall, as part of a wider review of the city’s role in climate change.

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