Drive-thru ban debating continues | Comments from Comox Public Participation Meeting

Comox Valley Record

Drive-thru debating continues

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By Erin Haluschak – Comox Valley Record

Published: October 08, 2009 6:00 PM
Updated: October 08, 2009 6:07 PM


With nearly a 2-1 margin favouring a proposed zoning amendment that would prohibit new drive-thus within Comox town limits, residents and business owners alike voiced their opinions Wednesday night at a public hearing for the bylaw.

The d’Esterre House was packed as a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 presented their thoughts on Comox zoning bylaw 1377, which has passed second reading through council. The bylaw proposes to prohibit drive-thru restaurants and services on all parcels of land that are subject to the bylaw with an exception of two parcels of land already approved for drive-thru use and existing drive-thrus.

Comox resident Marie Gordon began the two-hour hearing by noting how, if passed, a moratorium on drive-thrus would severely impact the physically challenged.

“The bylaw is going back to the dark ages. We have fought for a better quality of life, independence and safety … this is very insensitive towards the physically challenged,” she said.

Resident Angela Wood echoed Gordon’s views.

“I deal with challenges every day with a special-needs child. Being in a busy parking lot (without a drive-thru) is dangerous. I care about our planet, too, but we all have vehicles, and there’s things we can do co-operatively. Address the needs of all members of our community; I don’t want my daughter’s options taken away from her,” she noted.

Many of those who spoke for the bylaw addressed the environmental impact of drive-thrus.

“I’ve practised medicine in the Comox Valley for 25 years, and this represents the many ways the citizens of the world must adapt to changes, which makes us less susceptible to breathing problems, birth defects and more,” said resident Bill Halliday.

Wendy Prothero noted for every litre of gas utilized by an average car engine, 2.3 litres of carbon dioxide are released into the air.

“Drive-thrus are a luxury item we can live without,” she added.

Jill Peacock acknowledged the impact on the bigger environmental picture.

“This isn’t going to change the world, but we’re taking a small step — we have to start to do what we can when we can. To quote Ghandi, to want change, you have to be the change.”

One resident questioned more than just the green impact of drive-thrus.

“This is about more than just the environment — it’s about the esthetics of my community. I don’t want to live in Chilliwack or Abbotsford,” he said.

Bill Anglin, speaking on behalf of the Comox Valley Chamber of Commerce, opposed the bylaw, saying Comox would be at a severe disadvantage for attracting new business to the town.

“There are some concerns. The lack of consultation denied valuable input. It is important to have a lot of research before policy change.”

Comox resident and Tim Horton’s employee Barbra Overton added people should be given the options of using drive-thrus, noting banning is not the solution.

“Cars are still idling at schools and construction sites. Are you in the future going to ban parents from picking up their children?”

Local Tim Horton’s franchise owner John Brocklehurst disagreed with the severity of the environmental impact, and said he agrees climate change is important, but the impact of drive-thrus is negligible.

“(The bylaw) is not so much against drive-thrus as it is against cars. Banning drive-thrus does not get cars off the road, but gets more into parking lots … which would take up more green space.”

Representatives from fast-food chain Triple O’s (owned by White Spot) and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association supported Brocklehurst’s position.

A decision by council on third reading of the bylaw should be made within the month.

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