Drive Thru Issue Gone Nation Wide; O’Keefe

Drive Thru Issue Gone Nation Wide; O’Keefe
January 9, 2009

St. John’s Mayor Dennis O’Keefe, says interest in council’s decision to put proposed drive-thru’s on hold until traffic safety issues are addressed has gone nation-wide. O’Keefe says he has been doing interviews with media across the country – but he says there’s another aspect of the issue that’s unfolding. O’Keefe says the traffic department has been contacted by other communities about similar problems. He’s hopeful that St. John’s can come up with a plan which can be used across the country.

Lung Association Supporting Drive Thru Moratorium

Lung Association Supporting Drive Thru Moratorium
January 9, 2009

The province’s lung association has thrown its support behind the city’s moratorium on new drive thru’s. Spokesperson Greg Noel says they have been encouraging the public to limit vehicle use for some time, because of environmental and health concerns. Noel says while they may be pursuing change for different reasons, the association is pleased with the debate taking place. Noel notes it is not just drive thrus that cause the Lung Association concern. He says idling vehicles in general can have harmful health effects.

Former Ottawa City Director Applauds St. John’s Tim Horton’s Drive-through Ban

From the Wires

Former Ottawa City Director Applauds St. John’s Tim Horton’s Drive-through Ban

By: Marketwire .

Jan. 8, 2009 09:20 AM

OTTAWA, ONTARIO — (Marketwire) — 01/08/09 — Back in 2003, the City of Ottawa established an aggressive policy to restrict the proliferation of drive-through restaurants because of their direct impact on traffic congestion along main arteries, resulting in road rage and potential delays for police, fire and ambulance services. Drive-throughs encourage car idling creating air pollution. Tim Horton’s challenged Ottawa Council’s decision and the Ontario Municipal Board sided with Tim Horton’s in 2006.

“I am very pleased to see that Canadian cities are fighting back, says Dennis Jacobs, the City of Ottawa’s former Director of Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Policy, and the staff member who lead the fight in Ottawa. “Recently, Toronto has also stepped up to the plate adds Jacobs, by looking at ways to make Tim Horton’s and other fast food outlets, responsible for their direct impacts on the environment, in view of the disproportionately high amount of garbage that is strewn in and around city neighborhoods.”

“What we need however, says Jacobs, is a coordinated effort as individual municipalities cannot expect to make a difference on their own. Fast food is a part of our lifestyle, but the industry must also be environmentally responsible as a retail business. As evidenced in Ottawa, a piece meal approach results in many small battles that can be lost. What we need is a national approach.

Dennis Jacobs is a Registered Professional Planner, a past president of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and a member of the Canadian Institute of Planners. Since leaving the City of Ottawa in 2007, he has continued to practice land use planning in the Ottawa area as a consultant with the firm Momentum Strategic and Creative.

Momentum Strategic and Creative.
Dennis Jacobs
613-862-0799 or 613-729-3773

Published Jan. 8, 2009


Dear Members of City Council,

Please direct staff to review the possibility of placing a moratorium on all new commercial drive-through operations. This would be one strategy towards designing our city for people not cars.

A city designed for people not cars would have multiple town centres linked by green spaces, walkways and/or bicycle paths.

Benefits of multiple town centres:

  • Increased opportunities to access services, products, employment and entertainment within our communities
  • The development of a strong, highly diversified local economy, which would increase job opportunities.
  • Natural development of support networks for the disabled, elderly, young children, new immigrants etc.
  • Physical activity becomes a part of our daily routine, thereby improving overall health, air quality and decreasing the stress placed on our health care system.
  • Increased safety, as there would be more eyes on our communities thereby decreasing the overall need for police officers
  • Stronger communities

Designing cities around cars not people is expensive!

The cost of non-renewable fuels will continue to rise. This will impact the cost of living and the cost of running our cities.

  • We place ourselves in jeopardy, when our city is not highly diversified or built on a local economy.
  • Road and bridge infrastructure are expensive to build and maintain
  • Educational programs which promote better health are expensive, as they receive funding from all levels of government. Incorporating healthier lifestyles into our daily routines would achieve greater success and be cost effective.
  • The future costs of dealing with the impacts of climate change should not be ignored

Hopefully, in the near future, you will also consider levelling the playing field to encourage the growth of a diverse local economy and placing a moratorium on the widening of our streets.

As councilors you have the opportunity to place a unique stamp on London vs. a global stamp. Dare to dream!

As councillors, you are entrusted to do what is right for the majority. Please redesign our city for people not cars.

Best wishes,

Teresa Rutten

Opinion – We have Failed.

We have failed. We have failed to imagine the cost of convenience. We have failed to imagine the cost to our environment, to our health, and to the health of our children. All of these were unintended consequences. So let’s imagine change. Let’s remember that we have done this before when we agreed that smoking didn’t belong in the workplace and that kids on bikes needed helmets. If we could imagine this discussion in the future we are facing – we would recognize that drive-thrus are already a thing of the past.

Trae Robinson

Support from Denver Vale Nixon, BSc (Victoria), MES (York), MLIS (Western)

Dear Honourable Mayor DeCicco-Best:

I am a London homeowner and doctoral student at the University of Western Ontario (please see address below).  This afternoon I attended the meeting regarding drive-through (a.k.a. “drive-thru”) regulation in London, though perhaps “circus” would be a better description given the behaviour of the Tim Horton’s corporate supporters that were present.  Anyway, I wish to pass on to you that I support any regulatory change that prevents the addition of drive-throughs in the city.  Although the proposed changes that were presented sounded weakened, again I support any restrictions on drive-throughs, and therefore support the amendments, though with strong encouragement to expand drive-through restrictions universally (i.e. a moratorium) in the Official Plan as soon as possible.

Having returned from a two month “conference tour” on the west coast, I will admit that I am not totally up to date on all of the details and nuances that you have been dealing with, but I would like to speak to what I saw as glaring problems in the materials presented.  First, the report statement that drive-throughs do not increase automobile trips is absolutely incorrect.  My current research is on transportation geography and planning, and I have worked as an assistant planner for the Capital Regional District in Victoria, BC, and I can say definitively that a trip to the drive-through is in fact an additional trip, or two (if returning to the same origin), unless the person using the drive-through also works at the drive-through enterprise in question, and can park there without returning to the public road network.  A drive-through user may perform what is called, “trip chaining,” involving a number of stops between final beginning and end points (usually home and place of employment), but this is not aggregated to constitute one trip.  The drive-through is but another node in a series of nodes, the segments in between constituting extra trips.  The other suspect if not outright spurious report claims were those stating that drive-through idling has no significant impact on vehicle emissions (note the wording here), and/or that using a drive-through is no worse than parking the same vehicle.  In general, this makes little sense; if the person’s vehicle is idling, with constant accelerations and decelerations, they are logically emitting more than a vehicle that is not running.  To propose otherwise is absurd.  I may foresee a counter-argument in which a vehicle that starts cold emits more than one that is warm; this may be true in some cases (catalytic converters work best when hot), but how many vehicles will actually reach a thermal state definable as “cold” from a five minute sit in the parking lot throughout most of the year?

Beyond these concerns regarding truth claims, I feel that it is completely irrational, as well as heartless (with regard to future generations), to allow practices such as drive-though idling to continue given the undesirable direction of change observable in the environment, both locally and globally (I will not bore you here with a myriad citations, as I’ve gathered that you are familiar with the situation).  The lack of commitment to environmental integrity associated with drive-through providers is glaringly obvious when considering that most do not allow bicyclists or pedestrians to use this “service” (I have tried!).  Another concern revolves around health– a person, who otherwise does not suffer from a challenge to their mobility, cannot leave their car to walk inside the restaurant is making a sorry statement on the condition of our health and health-awareness indeed.  Similarly, the noise of drive-throughs, their localized emissions, as well as their questionable aesthetic, have the potential to undermine the physical and mental health of local residents.  The research is available to support this.  Please, in the future, when considering issues such as these, consult the peer reviewed literature, rather than entertaining corporate funded “grey papers” that have little scientific value.

Thank you for the time you’ve made to read and consider this.

Sincerely Yours,

Denver Nixon

“America is a country of remarkably developed, highly polished young women, and oddly garbed, criminally inclined young men travelling at great speed in monstrous cars along superhighways from one skyscraping city to the next; the very largest cars contain millionaires with crew-cuts; everyone is chewing gum…”

— Haddon, John. 1960. “A View of Foreign Lands.” Geography 65:286.

Denver Vale Nixon, BSc (Victoria), MES (York), MLIS (Western)

Support from Executive Director, Greenpeace in Canada



July 15, 2008

Councilor Judy Bryant

Chair, London Planning Committee

300 Dufferin Avenue.

London, ON

N6B 1Z2

Dear Madam Chair,

I am writing to urge you and the London planning committee to support a temporary moratorium on further “drive through” business operations in London.

While there has been much written and said about the importance of idling in the grand scheme of air quality and global warming, “drive throughs” versus parking lots, idling times and their corresponding carbon footprints, much of this has been raised in an concerted effort to create doubt, rather than provide clarity.

As was the case with the large tobacco companies in the sixties and seventies which questioned the science of smoking related illnesses, proponents of “drive thoughs” need only to create a doubt about the validity of their opponents’ concerns and they win: the status quo will continue.

Today, we know better. If you do in fact have concerns or doubts about whether or not “drive throughs” contribute to global warming and diminish air quality (and I stress here, you should not) then you should do what good science dictates: evoke the “precautionary principle” e.g. when in doubt about the environmental impact of an action, err on the side of caution.

I fear however that in this debate we may lose sight of the forest for the trees. The issue at stake is not counting the seconds of idling but what should London’s official plan be stipulating at a time when the entire global community is grappling with climate change mitigation? Should London’s official plan continue to support a status quo position that encourages individuals to get in their car and drive to a restaurant?

Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka Executive Director of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) has stated “the way in which the world’s growing cities are planned and managed will largely determine the pace of global warming”. Indeed, here in Canada, in the near total absence of meaningful federal action on climate change, municipalities and urban planning play even a greater role in addressing climate change than in other jurisdictions.

Municipalities have historically led the way on issues like waste diversion, cosmetic pesticide use and water quality. You can do the same on climate change. Public transit, building regulations, parks, traffic flow – and yes, regulation of “drive throughs” – are all areas in your purview that can have an effect on our collective greenhouse gas emissions.

No one is arguing that a moratorium on “drive throughs” is the most important issue facing our planet today, it is however part of the climate change solution puzzle and is the issue that is before your committee today. There will be no quick fix or single solution to global warming, just millions of small significant actions from individuals and leaders around the world.

Peter F. Drucker the renowned author and management guru once wrote that “management is about doing things right, leadership is about doing the right things”. I can assure you, twenty years from now no one will question why London does not have more drive through restaurants but they may wonder why Council did not act on global warming when they had the chance.

You are leaders, I urge you to do the right thing. Make London a leader and put a moratorium on new drive through businesses.

I thank you for your attention to this matter.


Bruce Cox

Executive Director, Greenpeace in Canada

c.c. Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco-Best

Cory Morningstar, Council of Canadians

Letter to Planning Committee from Former Employee of Industry

Dear City Council Members (Planning Committee),

I am writing today as a concerned citizen in our community (Ward 1), to voice my support for the call to impose–at least in the short term–a moratorium on new “drive-thru” developments in the City of London.

It was not so long ago that a municipal debate raged across the front pages of the London Free Press and in broadcast media about how many “Adult Entertainment” establishments should be allowed to operate in London. Citizens did not want to see new establishments allowed to set-up shop near schools or residential neighbourhoods, and they were viewed as a particular enhancement to the prosperity of the London economy. Although a business lobby group tried to force council to capitulate to their wishes for more licenses for such establishments, although some members of council were attacked for “legislating morality” or for being “prudes”, ultimately council exercised its proper authority and kept a firm cap on the number of such establishments and implemented restrictions on where such businesses could operate.

The issue today is drive-thrus, but the comparison holds.  Citizens–quite correctly–don’t want to see their property devalued and their quality of life ruined by having a drive-thru operation put in abutting or near their property. They don’t want the noise, or car exhaust pouring into their yards and homes.

Nor are drive-thrus a particular benefit to the local economy. Having nearly 10 years experience in the restaurant industry, it is a fact that on average customer’s average cheques are higher “in-store” than in “drive-thru”. People spend more when they can see and smell the product then when they cannot, and customers who sit “in-store” also generate “add-on” sales through that second cup of coffee, or deciding to get a dessert etc. A smart business operation can generate more economic activity “in-store” than a drive-thru is capable of. In fact there are numerous small business restaurants without drive-thrus all across London that do perfectly fine business and contribute far more to the economic health as well as the community spirit of London than the foreign owned corporations spending significant amounts of money on a misinformation and fear campaign opposing any additional restrictions or a moratorium.

Like the “Adult Entertainment” issue, council is fully and reasonably within its authority to cap the number of drive-thru operations in the city, and for the good of our community should impose at least in the short term a moratorium on new drive-thrus.

The moratorium is necessary because it is quiet clear that the current by-laws and restrictions on where these operations are allowed are insufficient. There are numerous examples of these operations abutting residential property in London. I pass two such examples every day on my commute to work (by bicycle as often as possible–and I applaud the addition of bicycle lanes between Gore and Trafalgar on Clarke Rd.), the first being at Trafalgar and Clarke road where the Tim Horton’s drive-thru abuts a large housing complex and again at Dundas & Calgary where only a rickety wooden fence separates a drive-thru lane from a single family home.

The moratorium is also necessary because as our awareness of environmental impacts of human activity at a local level grows, it is becoming more and more apparent that automobile traffic contributes a significant amount to air quality and environmental degradation. The skyrocketing health costs of poor air quality alone are a staggering blow to the province of Ontario in terms of the healthcare budget. Sick days due to respiratory problems are on the rise, while the London area continues to see record numbers of smog days (beginning earlier and running later into the calendar year) then ever before.  This is BAD for the economy, the environment, and the health of your constituents. I noted with interest that “Canadian Physicians for the Environment” is one of the organizations calling for a moratorium to be implemented.

More over, lacking a credible independent study into the impact of drive-thru operations on our environment, it is imperative that we consider the precautionary principle in decision making because we simply do not have enough data to make sound decisions based on “facts”.  You cannot, in good conscience, simply accept the selective manipulation of the industry commissioned RWDI study as unbiased findings.  As I have informed council members previously, my own experience in the fast food industry clearly demonstrated that the industry begins with skewed data in the first place because their method of tracking drive-thru times only begins when an order is placed. Further it is dependent on the honesty of employees to leave an order “on-screen” until it is delivered to the customer.  This frequently is not the case, as employees are encouraged–through various incentives and rewards–to lower drive-thru times and therefore many employees simply erase the order once it is fill and ready to hand out whether the vehicle has reached the window or not. Industry “findings” cannot be taken at face value.

Further, the fast-food industry’s over the top fear-mongering campaign to oppose any moratorium or restrictions on drive-thru locations has been so clearly designed to mislead and misinform the public that you should be cautious about accepting at face value any public support of the industry position. Public support for an issue based on false information–such as the industry is distributing through their propaganda–cannot be considered genuine support.  At the very least, the supposed 40,000 signatures on the petition the industry has presented to city hall should be cross referenced with the voters lists to ensure that the signatures are legitimate residents of London. Certainly senior levels of government require signatures to be verified on petitions to the parliament or provincial legislatures and it is reasonable to expect our municipal government also conduct due diligence on petitions it receives.

Finally, we must consider and return to the issue of our environment and energy supply.  Headline news stories have recently highlighted the increased costs to the City of London budget for fuel costs (and I have more than once witnessed a City of London vehicle idling in a long line-up at a Tim Hortons).  These same energy and fuel cost increases are being felt by individual citizens as well. The economy of our city has suffered as the downturn in the North American auto manufacturing sector has caused jobs to vanish. We appear to be at the beginning of a paradigm shift. Across our city there are numerous “grey fields”, practically or literally abandoned strip mall style retail developments. These are the product of short-sighted planning and thinking. An excellent example can be found at Highbury and Trafalgar on the northwest corner–but it is just one example.  With an increasingly apparent paradigm shift back toward more walkable, pedestrian and cyclist friendly communities, now is hardly the time to allow carte-blanche drive-thru development. If the paradigm shift occurs to the degree some predict–we may be creating a legacy of abandon drive-thru grey fields for our future. Even if a mass paradigm shift is not rapidly approaching, there is no doubt–the mountain of scientific evidence is indisputable–that our world is already in the midst of a large scale environmental change. The argument that the local impact of activity is insignificant on a large scale is simply not acceptable by any logical or even ethical standard. Think globally, act locally, is more than a slogan, it is a reality. You or I may not be able to change the activities of a government or even of an individual human being half way around the world (or even a few miles south of the border), but we can make a difference in our community. As elected officials you have a duty to act locally for the common good of our community.

Having cited my concerns and views on this issue, I would like to call on members of the planning committee to:

1) Refer to Council a recommendation that the City of London, in conjunction with other stakeholders (including labour organizations, local business owners, community organizations, and with citizen representation), produces an urgently needed ‘CO2 Emissions Strategy Report’ –providing direction and targets to curb emissions within the city of London. To emphasize the sense of urgency required to put a system such as proposed in place as well as show commitment to the process, a moratorium on expansion of the quantity of drive-thrus that exist in the city should be invoked until the report is functional and in use.

2) Commission an independent study of the impact of drive-thrus and idling on air quality and our local environment, or failing that to at the very least seeking independent expert review and opinion of the industry RWDI study to determine what is relevant, independently corroborated by other studies, and applicable for our community

3) Transfer jurisdiction of this issue to the  ETC, the committee to which it should logically be under the review and jurisdiction of.

Finally, I would call on members of the planning committee to recognize the extensive and arguably the most unbiased available work on this matter by your own city staff and endorse the reasonable recommendations made in their report to you.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Shawn Lewis

Dr. Jason Gilliland, Director Urban Development Program Supports a Moratorium

Dr. Jason Gilliland, Director
Urban Development Program
Department of Geography
The University of Western Ontario
London, Ontario, Canada N6A 5C2
Tel: (519) 661-2111 ext 81239
Fax: (519) 661-3750

Read his letter here: gilliland_comment_on_drivethrus

11 July 2008
London City Council
Subject: Built Environment and Health
Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the public meeting on July 15 to discuss the issue of ‘drive-throughs’
in the City of London; however, I wish to provide the following comments to add to the debate.
I am currently Director of the Urban Development Program and Associate Professor of Geography at the
University of Western Ontario, as well as an Associate Scientist with the Children’s Health Research
Institute centered in London. I have nearly two decades experience in the fields of urban geography,
planning, architecture, and public health.
The City of London had the foresight to recently create a full-time Urban Design staff position and to
form an Urban Design Steering Committee, of which I am a member. This clearly demonstrates that the
City is committed to good urban design and development practices in order to improve the quality of life
for all Londoners.
Two-thirds of Canadians are not active enough to achieve the health benefits of physical activity. Recent
research in urban planning has demonstrated that the way we design and build our communities has a
significant impact on public health. The prevailing patterns of land use and urban development in
Canadian cities, which are automobile-dependent, act as barriers to behaviours which can improve one’s
health, such as walking and biking. Drive-throughs clearly do not contribute to a pedestrian-friendly
I respectfully request that City Council seriously consider the recommendations put forward in the City of
London Planning Department report on drive-through regulations and to immediately enact a moratorium
on drive-throughs within the City of London.
Jason Gilliland, BA, MA, M.Arch, PhD

MOTIONS – Limiting Future Proliferation Of Drive-Through Businesses In The City of North Vancouver


9. Limiting Future Proliferation Of Drive-Through Businesses In The City of North Vancouver – File: 4000-03-01

Submitted by Councillor S.A. Schechter

WHEREAS Sections 8.4.1 and 8.4.2 of the Official Community Plan set out environmental goals to “demonstrate environmental leadership” and “encourage the community to adapt to a sustainable lifestyle”;

WHEREAS Section 6.1 of the Official Community Plan reports that the transportation sector is the largest contributor to City air pollution, producing 36.5% of the total community greenhouse gas emissions;

WHEREAS “Street and Traffic Bylaw, 1991, No. 6234, Amendment Bylaw, 2005, No. 7697” (Vehicle Idling) prohibits people from idling vehicles for greater than three minutes, but does not specify drive-through businesses; and

Continued… The Corporation of the Council Agenda for City of North Vancouver Page 6 January 21, 2008

9. Limiting Future Proliferation Of Drive-Through Businesses In The City of North Vancouver – File: 4000-03-01 – Continued

WHEREAS drive-through businesses not only contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions, but they have resulted in noise complaints from surrounding residents;


1. Staff be requested to investigate options for limiting future proliferation of drive-through businesses in the City of North Vancouver; and

2. This resolution be referred to the Parks & Environment Advisory Committee and the Advisory Planning Commission.