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

London West NDP Riding Association Endorsement

To: Mayor Anne Marie DeCicco and London City Council.

Subject: CITY OF LONDON OFFICIAL PLAN/ZONlNG REFINEMENT REVIEW Regulation of Drive-Through Facilities

I am writing on behalf of the executive of the London West NDP Riding Association executive council to express our support for the City’s By-Law amendments to Drive-thru services as outlined in Agenda item 18 of the May 26, 2008 council agenda. As the background material in the agenda item makes clear, the proliferation of drive-thru facilities in London since 1996 has made analysis of their impact on traffic flow, noise and light pollution and disturbances, and air quality a priority. In light of the known environmental and health impacts of car exhaust we support a moratorium on further drive-thru construction and operation within the City of London.

Further, given the advances in long-range weather forecasting and air-quality monitoring, we believe drive-thru operations at food and coffee establishments should be restricted from operating on smog-advisory days, as well as on the two days preceding the smog advisory alert.

Finally, clear signage posted at the drive-thru establishments should indicate idling time is restricted to 1 minute, cite the appropriate city by-law and the fine for infractions.


Peter L Ferguson, President

London West NDP Riding Association

London & District Labour Council Endorsement


Councillors & Contacts Who Are Leading The Fight on Drive-Thrus

There are obviously others in support of a drive-thru moratorium across the country.  Some we are not certain of their position – others we may be unaware.  If you are in support of a drive-thru moratorium or ban but do not see your name listed – please contact us at Thank you.



Councillor Eric Bolland

Wayne Atwater:



Councillor Anne Marie Gillis


Mayor Fred Eisenberger


Councillor Joe Mihevc

Sean Hill – Executive Assistant to Councillor Joe Mihevc


Nancy Branscombe

Judy Bryant

David Winninger

Gina Barber

Joni Baechler

Susan Eagle



Councillor Don Iveson

Councillor David Theile



Councillor Mike O’Shaughnessy



Councillor Sam Schechter


John Howard, MD, FRCPC -Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario -Pediatric Division of London Health Sciences Centre

Gideon Forman Executive Director of Cape – Canadian Physicians for the Environment


London District Labour Council:

Patti Dalton – President of London and District Labour Council

Jim Mahon – London and District Labour Council, Environment Committee


Executive Director – Bruce Cox