Drive-thrus not ‘viable’ for strong communities, says alderman

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 10:54 AM MT Comments3Recommend1

CBC News

A recent move by Calgary city council to omit drive-thrus from one redevelopment plan should happen more often, says one alderman.

Last week, city council left out drive-thrus when it approved a new area structure plan — which dictates what kinds of businesses, retail and housing are allowed — for the 10 blocks around the Chinook LRT station.

The area in south Calgary already includes drive-thrus for banks and fast-food restaurants, but the plan means no new ones are allowed. It’s part of the city’s policy to increase density around transit stations and promote those areas as pedestrian-friendly.

Ald. Brian Pincott says he’d like to see the same policy applied to the rest of the city.

“The more that we build community — and drive-thrus are part of this — that keeps people separated, segregated from each other, the less viable our community is,” he said Tuesday.

The Ward 11 councillor says a bylaw banning drive-thrus is not in the works, but he’d like to see them eventually disappear, “to make sure we’re actually building community again and getting people out of their cars, forcing people to interact with each other.”

But the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the city shouldn’t interfere in the way people want to do their business.

“To just make some blanket statement that for some reason drive-thrus are inherently unviable, that’s really not a government decision,” said Danielle Smith, the group’s Alberta director.

The drive-thru window is a big part of business at CB Drive Inn in northwest Calgary. Owner Young Lee says a drive-thru ban wouldn’t kill his burger outlet, but some of his customers hate the idea.

“I’d have to do it the old way. And I enjoy doing the drive-thru,” said Michele Walgenbach. “It’s a lot quicker. I enjoy it. It’s convenient.”

Other Canadian municipalities have considered banning drive-thrus for environmental reasons.