City urged to ban new drive-thrus downtown

Friday, 19 February 2010

By Amanda Mrezar

A City of Ottawa committee has approved bylaw changes that would ban drive-thru services for restaurants and banks from the downtown area.

The decision by the city’s planning and environment committee, which awaits consideration by full council later this month, follows lengthy negotiations with TDL Group Corp., the parent company of coffee-and-donut retailer Tim Hortons.

The committee approved plans to prevent new drive-thru services in the city’s central area and along “village mainstreets” throughout Ottawa.

TDL Group appealed an earlier proposed policy in July 2008.

The Ottawa lawyer representing the company, Michael Polowin, says the vote by committee members to approve the amended policy was a preliminary step in a process ultimately headed for the Ontario Municipal Board, which resolves disputes over decisions by the province’s municipal governments.

“A settlement was reached through mediation. The settlement is subject to approval by city council, and by the Ontario Municipal Board,” he says.

The “central area” referred to in the report encompasses Lowertown and Centretown, including the city’s central business district.

A city report says maintaining the “distinct identity and heritage character,” of areas such as Centretown is a top priority in implementing the bylaw.

“It’s a good thing further restrictions are in place,” says Shawn Menard, president of the Centretown Citizens Community Association.

“Centretown is an eclectic place,” he adds, noting that the convenience of drive-thrus can clash with the interests of pedestrians.

“We are all walkers,” he says.

The new policy, according to the city report, is aimed at supporting walking and cycling, and recognizes the importance of maintaining safe environments on all main streets.

Kanata South Coun. Peggy Feltmate, who sits on the planning committee, says that while there are few drive-thrus in the central area, the city felt restrictions were necessary because car-based services “are environmentally unfriendly and they cause a waiting area…which causes traffic problems.”

But she says Tim Hortons has “felt restricted” by the push to limit drive-thrus because the company wants to protect a strategy they’ve employed for their company.

City planner Francoise Jessop of says changes to the drive-thru bylaws became necessary when Ottawa’s formerly autonomous municipalities were amalgamated and multiple zoning rules were standardized.

“We tried to establish drive-thrus as a separate land use,” she says.

“What we decided to do is make the drive-thru facility a separate land use to regulate it separately. This is something a lot of municipalities are doing.”

However, under the conditions agreed upon through mediation between the city and TDL, restaurants will still have the opportunity to develop a drive-thru in restricted areas, but will have to go through a zoning process, she says.

“The reason we are proposing those policies is because the official plan speaks to promoting those areas as pedestrian and civilian areas,” says Jessop.

“The drive-thru type of facility isn’t always that compatible with those objectives,” she says, re-iterating that “…drive-thrus in critical areas of the city would do nothing to enhance those areas”.

City drive-thrus targeted

City drive-thrus targeted


Could the city’s green-bin program be extended to parks and special events?

It’s up for discussion at tonight’s council committee meeting.

A waste audit conducted by staff shows a significant amount of compostable organics coming from special events and at the city’s recreational facilities and parks.

A staff report makes the following recommendations:

* Initiate green bin collection at all Orillia recreational facilities, and require any food vendors operating out of these buildings to use this program.

* Strongly encourage or require special events holders to divert compostable organics from Orillia special events.

* It is not recommended that permanent receptacles be installed for collecting compostable organics in area parks unless Parks staff can closely monitor potential contamination with garbage.

There would be minimal financial impact, the report states.


It might take new regulations to address concerns with traffic at restaurant drive-thrus in the city, a report states.

Last year, council requested a report providing solutions to issues with traffic remaining partially on the street while waiting to enter a drive-thru, particularly at the Tim Hortons at West Street and Fittons Road.

Staff looked into the possibility of relocating the drive-thru to another part of the store, but it’s a costly option that would likely require internal redesign.

"This solution would certainly be costly and, if proposed, would quite possibly rouse the ire of the store owner," the report states. "From a practical standpoint, reconfiguration of drivethrus at existing locations is not a feasible option and in some cases is not possible or would provide little benefit."

Another option — though not recommended by staff — is signage, such as "Be prepared to stop" signs.

"In the West Street North (Tim Hortons) situation, warning signs would need to be placed south of Fittons Road to be effective and would be warning motorists to be prepared to stop as they approach a traffic signal," the report states.

The city could consider new regulations when it updates its zoning bylaw, but new regulations "cannot render existing uses illegal."


When the OPP builds its new regional command centre, it will require direct access to Highway 12.

The city, then, is being asked to adopt a public road.

There’s a list of conditions, including support from the Ministry of Transportation and the Ontario Realty Corporation, maintenance of the road over 30 years, and that the OPP cover the costs associated with construction, servicing and maintenance.


New Rules for Drive-Throughs in Ottawa

New Rules for Drive-Throughs

Josh Pringle

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The City of Ottawa is amending its Official Plan to ban drive-through facilities in the Central Area and in villages.

A report for the Planning and Environment Committee is recommending Council approve the amendment that states "drive-through facilities will not generally be permitted" in the Central Area or in the commercial core of villages or on village mainstreets.

The report says “drive-through facilities are not considered to be appropriate in the Central Area and Village Mainstreets and Cores where such uses would interfere with the intended function and form of these designations”, which encourages a pedestrian-friendly streetscape.

Staff say the amendment will prohibit drive-through facilities in these designations unless certain criteria can be met, which will be required to go through concurrent Zoning By-Law amendment and a Site Plan Control Approval process.

The amendment says “Within the Central Area, Zoning Bylaw amendments for new drive-through facilities will not be permitted at locations where they would interfere with the intended function and form of the Central area designation.” Drive-through facilities will “not be permitted on Village Mainstreets or in Village commercial cores” in order to “protect and enhance the pedestrian environment.”