SUCCESS!!! | Drive-thru ban bylaw given first approval

Drive-thru ban bylaw given first approval

By Marcel Tetrault, Comox Valley EchoJuly 17, 2009

If new fast food restaurants open in Comox, it looks like their customers will be going indoors for their Big Macs and double-doubles.

Comox council split down the middle over a motion to ban future drive-thrus in the seaside community, with the final vote coming down 4-3 in favour of the ban.

The decision has no effect on existing drive-thrus.

Councillors Russ Arnott, Ray Crossley, Patti Fletcher and Marcia Turner all supported the motion, with Mayor Paul Ives and councillors Ken Grant and Tom Grant opposed.

The next step will be to draft a bylaw that will have to wind its way through the approval process, including a public hearing where Comox residents can weigh in on the issue.

As far as Ken Grant is concerned, residents have already made their views known and they want more drive-thrus.

"The taxpayers have spoken on this," he said. "As a matter of fact, the word stupid has been used more often than any other bylaw that I’ve seen in four years.

"This is not a good thing. It’s costing us money, it’s costing us jobs and it’s costing us convenience."

He claimed that banning drive-thrus sends the message that Comox is "closed for business."

"I think that’s the wrong message," he said.

But other councillors were not convinced, with Crossley arguing that they could hear from the entire community first hand when the bylaw goes to public hearing.

"There are a lot of people that have not been part of this conversation," he said.

"This is a conversation that every community … is starting to have with people, and I’m not afraid to have it. It’s long past due, I feel."

The issue was a divisive one at the council table and, referring to a full-page ad that ran in several newspapers, Arnott said it is also becoming divisive within the community.

The ad, which lists councillors contact information, claims that "anti-car activists" want to ban all drive-thrus, not just new ones, even though it is clear that the Comox bylaw, at which the ad is targeted, is only for new drive-thrus.

"This misinformation is causing a lot of concern among residents," said Arnott. "This information is going out and what it’s doing is just stirring a nest here."

The council meeting was packed with fast-food restaurant owners and staff, some of whom spoke to council and argued that not only would the ban hurt their business, but it would also be counter-productive.

They argued that parking a car could produce more emissions than going through a drive-thru and people might actually travel further to use a restaurant with a drive-thru if the closest one was not drive-thru equipped.

"Collectively we are people on the move," said Comox Valley McDonald’s Restaurant owner John McInnes.

"Banning drive-thrus does not get cars off the road. What banning drive-thrus does, though, is get more cars into parking lots."

The restaurant owners are asking council to consider adopting an anti-idling bylaw rather than banning new drive-thrus.

They did agree that a selective ban in some parts of Comox, such as downtown, would be acceptable, but not a blanket ban that includes the main transportation corridors such as Guthrie and Anderton roads.

The entire issue cropped up after drive-thrus were permitted at the new development at that intersection that includes a TD Bank and a Starbucks, each with drive-thrus.

The issue is now with staff, who are tasked with drawing up the new bylaw.

“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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