Drive-thru debate divides council

Drive-thru debate divides council

By Elaine Mitropoulos, Comox Valley EchoApril 17, 2009

As the debate drags on, drive-thrus continue to divide the Comox council.

This week’s council meeting saw Coun. Ken Grant, who is staunchly in favour of the fast-food fixtures, question Coun. Patti Fletcher’s motives in wanting to rid Comox of future drive-thrus.

Fletcher owns a bike shop in town and Ken Grant pointed to the store’s participation in the B.C. SCRAP-IT program – an incentive that invites motorists to trade in old cars for new bikes – as a conflict of interest.

The council is considering banning future drive-thrus as a means to curb greenhouse emissions and dependency on gas-guzzling vehicles.

In response to his accusation, Fletcher excused herself from further discussions and voting on drive-thrus, but requested that town staff seek out a legal opinion on the matter.

Coun. Ray Crossley made a motion to defer voting on the rezoning application that would see drive-thrus banned from future developments until legal advice was heard.

The delay was accepted by all but Couns. Ken Grant and Tom Grant.

Coun. Tom Grant argued the council was trying to expedite the demise of drive-thrus without taking into account input from community stakeholders, like the accessibility committee or parents with children.

He said he couldn’t imagine a mother trying to pack a car-full of kids into a Tim Horton’s to buy a half a dozen Timbits.

“That’s just not convenient for them,” he said.

He called for staff to research how other Canadian municipalities have dealt with bans on drive-thrus and for a report to come back to the council.

“I think we can sit back and research things until the cows come home,” said Coun. Russ Arnottt.

“But I think what we need to do is what’s right for our community… In keeping in tune with cows coming home, we need to take the bulls by the horns and be proactive in this.”

Ken Grant went on to call for feedback on the potential ban from the town’s accessibility committee, a motion that was moved unanimously.

“I want to hear what they have to say on the issue,” he said. “We send everything else we do to them… I’m at a loss why we didn’t send this one.”

After the April 15 meeting, Mayor Paul Ives said he was surprised the heated issue was still up for debate.

“I would still like us to look at an anti-idling bylaw. That’s the real issue here,” he said.

“(Idling) is a personal thing that people have to take care of whether they’re in a drive-thru lane or stopping at a store.”

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service


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