Comox councillor unhappy with ‘drive-thru’ approval

By Elaine Mitropoulos, Comox Valley Echo March 10, 2009

If Comox councillor Russ Arnott had his way, he wouldn’t let businesses pave paradise to put up a drive-thru.

Arnott, who sits on the community’s Business in Action committee, said businesses should be attracted to Comox for its “beauty.” Any corporations that demanded drive-thru accessibility, he said, could ultimately set up shop elsewhere.

“Is that really the business that we want?” he said during a March 4 council meeting. “I would just as soon say go on to the next town.”

Arnott’s comments come in the wake of the council approving a development that will see coffee giant Starbucks and the Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD Bank) housed next to the Shopper’s Drug Mart on the corner of Guthrie and Anderton roads.

Developer Moe Sihota of ACI Comox Ltd. told councillors that securing the corporate tenancies was contingent on installing drive-thrus that would allow for quick coffee breaks and convenient banking.

But Coun. Marcia Turner pointed to the environmental consequences of encouraging idling traffic, especially since the town was striving to meet its 2010 carbon-neutrality targets.

Turner motioned for the town’s planning department to prepare a report so that councillors could decide whether or not to ban drive-thrus from any future developments in Comox.

However, Sihota cautioned the council, saying that drive-thrus were an “economic reality” that drew in business in tough times.

A letter written to the town’s mayor from the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association vice-president of Western Canada echoed Sihota’s concern.

“Not only would a ban on (drive-thrus) have a serious impact on jobs and investment in Comox, it would falsely blame (drive-thrus) as a leading contributor to poor air quality,” wrote Mark von Schellwitz.

The planning department’s report is slated for review by the town’s committee of the whole in about one month’s time.


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