Reconsider drive-thru ban: Muir

By Carol Aun – Mission City Record

March 29, 2011

Arnold Muir accused Mission council of stifling business opportunities and asked politicians to re-consider the anti-drive-thru bylaw created two years ago.

It was done without consultation and has caused more harm than good, said Muir during a March 21 council meeting when he appeared as a delegation.

Some councillors believe drive-thrus create safety issues and are an environmental hazard, but Muir questions how many pedestrian injuries or fatalities have actually occurred. He also said if drive-thrus didn’t exist, vehicles would be congesting parking lots and as a result, larger parking lots would have to be created.

"This is a busy world and not everyone has time to line up inside a fast food restaurant," Muir added. It’s not easy for seniors and families with young children to get in and out of their vehicles.

Drive-thrus are a convenience and consumers should have that choice, he argued.

Mission Western Developments is a victim of this bylaw as it received approval-in-principle in 2007, but after working through environmental issues with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, found the rules changed in 2009.

"Why not work with businesses to make it economically viable?" he asked.

Last November, Mission council voted 4-3 to consider drive-thru restaurants at specific sites, allowing the proposed development at Lougheed Highway and Cedar Valley Connector to proceed.

But MWD is going through the entire process again because the developers changed their application in January this year, said Barclay Pitkethly, Mission’s deputy director of planning.

Instead of working through issues around Windebank Creek, MWD wants to sever that part of the property and donate it to a group that will preserve it. In addition to dealing with environmental issues, the ministry of transportation also has to be consulted because the property is on a provincial highway.

The new building plan includes two drive-thrus, and the issue is expected to be back before council later this year.


Cumberland | Village puts lid on downtown drive-thrus

Village puts lid on downtown drive-thrus

By Tamara Cunningham, Comox Valley Echo April 1, 2011

Read more:

If people want a bite to eat in Cumberland’s downtown core, they’ll have to step out of their car to get it.

Council hopes to protect the heritage-look of the village with a new downtown ban on drive-thru restaurants.

An amended bylaw will only allow fast food eateries with drive-trhus to set up on along the highway interchange where a large development company expects to build.

Mayor Fred Bates thinks the limitations are a middle ground on the issue.

Drive-thrus provide travelers with a degree of safety, he said, but by keeping them out of the downtown core, the village can maintain its character.

Coun. Leslie Baird agreed there’s no problem with the service "as long as it’s out on the highway."

Drive-thrus have become a safe and timely way for travelers to grab a snack and will encourage people to stop on the way towards their destination, Baird said.

Cumberland is the latest Canadian municipality to mull over whether there’s still a place for drive-thru restaurants in light of air quality issues and greenhouse gas emissions.

Comox was steeped in controversy two years ago when it introduced a drive-thru bylaw over pollutant concerns.

Environmentalists, residents and fast food workers squared off over the issue for eight months, forming coalitions and creating petitions.

The debate came to a head in October 2009 when council decided to restrict drive-thrus to two sites in Comox, where fast food restaurants already operate.

Bates said the village is seeking to be proactive on the issue before it finds itself in the same place Comox did.

The village is currently drive-thru free, but with several large development companies considering restaurants, boutiques and hotels – realizes it might not be for long.

Council reviewed everything from fast food’s contribution to distracted driving and obesity to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution during its public meeting, Monday.

Councillors Gwyn Sproule and Kate Greening called for a complete ban on drive-thrus, concerned about litter and environmental impacts, but were outvoted 2-3.

"They started (these) in the 1930s when the motor car was just coming in and when there was endless fuel, now we are past peak oil and realize the dangers to the planet of burning fossil fuels," Sproule said.

Cumberland is well positioned to set targets on reducing greenhouse gases and drive-thru restaurants will only make that more difficult, she added.

"This would up our targets rather than reduce them, and it doesn’t fit with our image as a sustainable community," Sproule said.

Greening pointed out that Trilogy has offered up a pedestrian friendly, outdoor shopping experience in its development application. She isn’t sure where drive-thru services fit into that.

Council voted to limit drive-thrus to the highway. If permitted, businesses might also have to abide by design guidelines, like setbacks and sound barriers.

Council has also agreed to consider a new an anti-idling bylaw, which could reverse this latest decision and allow only for curbside ventures.

Read more:

What’s in a coffee cup?

A potent chemical cocktail that includes chloride, sodium, hydroxide, bleach, sulphuric acid and limestone goes into the production of a single paper cup along with 33 grams of wood & 4.1 grams of petroleum.

National Post to Tim Hortons | I solemnly vow to end needless idling

I solemnly vow to end needless idling

Peter Redman, National Post Files

Graeme Fletcher intends to swear off drive-throughs, considering engine idling to be an unacceptably high source of greenhouse gas emissions.

Graeme Fletcher, National Post · Friday, Jan. 7, 2011

Every year I make them and every year I break the darned things — New Year resolutions. This year is going to be different. There is one resolution I am going to keep — I will cut my idling time by three minutes a day.

You see, nothing is as costly to the environment — or my wallet –as needlessly idling an engine. Fuel economy just can’t get any worse — zero kilometres travelled for the fuel consumed. As an incentive, I will fine myself for over-idling. A tax on stupidity, if you will, that will fund my next vacation if I fail to curb my wanton ways.

According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), "Excessive idling wastes a significant amount of fuel and money and generates needless greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. If drivers of light-duty vehicles avoided idling by just three minutes a day, over the year, Canadians would collectively save 630 million litres of fuel and 1.4 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and $630-million in fuel costs (assuming a fuel cost of $1 per litre)."

The starting point for my resolution proved to be a no-brainer–eliminate the use of drive-throughs. While NRCan’s numbers paint a vivid picture of the idling problem, the reality is that the three-minute time frame only scratches the surface; it takes appreciably longer than that to navigate the average drive-through.

In 2007, students at the University of Alberta monitored a popular drivethrough in Edmonton for 54 hours. During that time, 3,756 cars idled in line for at least five minutes each. Punching the number of cars and the idle time into NRCan’s idling calculator showed that this single drivethrough accounts for 158,784 litres of wasted fuel every year. The bigger problem, however, is the 385,902 kilograms of GHG emissions that are pumped into the atmosphere annually. Multiply these numbers by the number of drive-throughs across Canada and the magnitude of the problem becomes only too clear, at least to me.

Of course, there is always a dissenting opinion. An executive summary of the Air Quality Assessment for Tim Hortons Restaurants Ontario Canada, as presented in a report to the City of Kingston in 2009, used a number of arguments to suggest that drive-throughs are not bad for the environment. The study was commissioned by Tim Hortons.

The first of the conclusions states that "for a Tim Hortons store with no drive-through, the congestion that occurs in the parking lot, together with the start-up emissions and emissions from the extra travel distance to get to and from a space, all contribute to produce somewhat higher emissions per vehicle compared [with] a store that has a drivethrough."

That does not seem to hold water. Left to idle for five minutes, the average car consumes enough gasoline to drive four kilometres, more than enough fuel to find a parking space. More importantly, an NRCan study completed in 2003 concluded that "there is little (CAC) impact in the choice of vehicle operation (idling or shut down) when the vehicle is stopped for durations between 10 seconds and 10 minutes." This means there is no meaningful difference in the pollution (volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen in criteria air contaminants or CACs between turning the engine off and restarting it versus letting the vehicle idle.

The third Tim Hortons conclusion states: "To put drive-throughs into perspective, the predicted peak-hour emissions resulting from all vehicles in the queue in a Tim Hortons drivethrough are small when compared to idling emissions at an urban intersection (i. e., less than one-fifth). The emissions of smog pollutants and greenhouse gases from a single vehicle using a drive-through are less than 10% and 5%, respectively, of a typical 30-minute morning commute." Sadly, intersections are a necessary evil needed to control the flow of traffic. Similarly, the morning commute is how one gets to work. In other words, the consumption of fuel is for a valid reason in each case.

Conclusion Four says: "The combined emissions generated from all vehicles using a drive-through facility during a peak-hour of operation are relatively small in relation to other common emission sources. For example, the smog pollutant emissions are comparable to a single chainsaw operating for one hour, and the CO2 emissions are comparable to a single bus operating for one hour."

It’s hardly surprising chainsaws spew emissions given that most do not have any form of pollution control. Nor do the lawn mowers and snow blowers cited elsewhere in the Tim Hortons report. However, the catalytic converter, a mandatory item on all modern cars and light trucks, reduces hydrocarbons by 98% and carbon monoxide by 96% — and there are 90% fewer nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions. As for the bus, one cannot realistically compare the CO2 emissions of a mass-transit vehicle ferrying many people around with a car sitting in a drive-through.

The Tim Hortons report concludes: "Overall, the findings for the Tim Hortons stores examined in this study indicate no air quality benefit to the public from eliminating drivethroughs."

Let me make one thing clear: The idling issue applies equally to all drive-throughs and not just Tim Hortons. For me, there is absolutely no way of justifying unnecessary idling regardless of how convenient, or otherwise, it may be to some. I hate taxes as much as the next person, but, if it takes a financial incentive for me to reduce my needless idling time, then so be it.

Birthplace of the drive-thru bans them to curb obesity

Baldwin Park, Calif., home of the first-ever drive-through restaurant – an In N Out Burger – has banned construction of new ones for nine months in an effort to curb obesity.

A customer receives an order from the drive-through at In-N-Out Burger in Baldwin Park, Calif., in this June 8 photo. This blue-collar town has banned construction of new drive-throughs in an effort to curb obesity.

Adam Lau/AP

By Gloria Goodale, Staff writer / August 2, 2010

Los Angeles

Holy Hamburger!

The southern California town of Baldwin Park – the reputed birthplace of the "drive-thru" restaurant – has put a nine-month ban on the construction of any new drive-in food emporiums.

The In ‘N Out Burger chain, credited with spawning the trend that led to McDonald’s and all the rest, was founded in 1948 in a town now home to some 83,000 residents with a median income of $42,000 – and 17 drive-in restaurants. Local officials say they wanted to tackle not just the traffic snarls inherent in an “in-car” dining culture, but be part of the national campaign to stem obesity – a cause championed by First Lady Michelle Obama.

“We see ourselves at the forefront of the fight on obesity,” says Marc Castagnola, Baldwin Park community development manager. “We also want to encourage people to get out of their cars and walk around,” he says with a rueful nod to the obvious challenge of bucking a southern California car culture.

This connection between fast-food establishments and the expanding national waistline is well-documented. A 2005 study from Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities, “The City Planner’s Guide to the Obesity Epidemic: Zoning and Fast Food,” has a section entitled “Connecting the Dots from Obesity to Fast Food and Zoning” that frames the debate. It states that obese and overweight adults cost the US between $98 billion to $129 billion each year in national health care expenditures.

The study points a finger directly at the fast-food industry, saying, “… children who eat fast food compared to those who do not eat it consume more total energy, more total fat, more saturated fat, more total carbohydrates, more added sugars, more sugar-sweetened drinks, less fluid milk, less fiber, less fruits, and less nonstarchy vegetables."

The authors go on to conclude the information presents “a logical and compelling justification for the regulation of fast food outlets by zoning laws to protect the public’s health from the devastating obesity epidemic.”

The town just northeast of downtown Los Angeles is not the first to take such action. L.A. itself tried it for a year and other cities in the Golden State are looking into restricting the numbers. At the same time, says California Restaurant Association spokesman Daniel Conway, it is not fair to target one part of a complex problem involving many facets of human behavior.

“The fast food industry has been moving in this direction for a while, providing more healthy alternatives as well as menu labeling information,” he points out. (Not a moment too soon, since the federal regulation requiring all restaurant chains of 20 or more outlets to label menu food passed with the recent health care reform bill.)

But even obesity experts acknowledge that the human component is more important and complicated than a single piece of zoning or federal legislation. Low-income areas need access to more grocery stores and outlets for fresh fruits and vegetables, says James Zervios, communications director of the Tampa-based Obesity Action Coalition.

The real struggle is “to empower people to learn to make the right choices on decisions about their lives,” says Mr. Zervios. Fast-food restaurants may indeed be contributing to health issues, but the public seems to agree with a more lifestyle-oriented solution. While 28 year-old Ali Pak munches on an In ‘N Out Burger, he says the answer is not necessarily less fast food, but “more exercise.”

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”.