Greenwashing Campaign to save drive-thrus

Campaign to save drive-thrus

Elaine Mitropoulos, Comox Valley Echo

Published: Friday, June 19, 2009

Fast-food restaurant owners in the Comox Valley have banded together to form the Comox Drive-Thru Restaurant Coalition.

This week, Valley fast-food chain employers and employees were passing out flyers to alert their customers of the Town of Comox’s potential ban on future drive-thrus.

"We would really like to encourage our customers and the public to call the councillors… and let them know that they are absolutely not in favour of the drive-thru ban," said John Brocklehurst, owner of three Valley Tim Hortons, including one on Anderton Road in Comox.

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Lined up at a Comox drive-thru, Jennifer Tarleton (left) receives a flyer about a potential ban on the fast-food fixtures from Anderton Road Tim Hortons supervisor Kathleen Snider and her boss John Brocklehurst (right).

"There is no scientific evidence to say that it’s a good idea."

The owner at a neighbouring McDonald’s has also jumped on the campaign, as have other Valley fast-food restaurants like Wendy’s, Dairy Queen and A&W.

"Parents with small children, people with disabilities and seniors depend on drive-thrus," said Anderton Road McDonald’s owner John McInnes.

However, Jennifer Tarleton, who uses hand controls to drive because of a knee injury, said she was for the ban despite her disability.

"I think it’s a good thing. I think they cause traffic," she said while waiting in a drive-thru line to order her lunch.

"I’m not completely immobile. I can park and walk inside."

She wasn’t the only one to point to congestion – not environmental reasons – for outlawing drive-thrus in the town.

"Yeah, I totally agree with (the ban). Have you seen the drive-thru in Comox?" said Emma Bates, pointing to the two restaurants and the train of cars that access them.

"It’s dangerous through there."

Black Creek resident Anne Leger – who said she rarely used drive-thrus – did consider their possible environmental impact.

"I really think the service is so quick you wouldn’t really idle there," she said.

On the other hand, Lee Boutilier, who frequents the hot spot on his way to work at CFB Comox, said he didn’t like the idea of the town making choices for him.

He said he saw a place and time for the fast-food fixtures.

"I wouldn’t be for banning them because I still think it comes down to an individual choice and why you are doing it," he said.

While Brocklehurst acknowledged the potential ban would have no effect on his current outlets, he said he worried outlawing drive-thrus could set a precedent.

"We don’t know where it’s going to go after that," he said of the potential ban.

"The biggest fear is that it’s going to go through (council) without anybody having an option to give their opinion."

The Comox council is split on the topic.

Those councillors in favour are considering the ban to curb greenhouse emissions and dependency on gas-guzzling vehicles.

But others have taken the side of the fast-food industry and argue the move will cut back business and employment instead.

In April, the council delayed voting on the ban until legal advice was heard concerning a possible conflict of interest on the part of Coun. Patti Fletcher, who owns a bike shop in town.

The town’s lawyer, however, has given Fletcher the go-ahead to weigh in on the issue, and a staff report is due for consideration later this month.

The issue will go to a public hearing before a final decision is made.

“Climate policy is characterized by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.”
David Spratt, Philip Sutton, Climate Code Red, Australia, Published July, 2008

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