Drive-thrus are bad for you, city argues


November 06, 2008 08:26 PM

Bank drive-thru approved, but sparks debate about merits
By: Caroline Grech

If you like to get your coffee or do your banking at a drive-thru, you might have to change your ways if some Vaughan councillors get their way.

An application by York Major Holdings Inc. and Metrus Properties to build a bank with a drive- thru sparked debate amongst councillors about the need for drive-thrus.

While council approved the application in the end, the ensuing debate provided insight into how Vaughan might look in the future.

The approved proposal would see a bank with a drive-thru built at Major Mackenzie Drive and Dufferin Street.

But some councillors don’t want to see more drive-thrus in the city.

“It’s a bank. Drive-thrus are not critical. I prefer that a drive-thru not be allowed at this corner,” Councillor Alan Shefman said.

If Vaughan is looking now at a plan to make the city more sustainable, drive-thrus don’t fit the bill, Mr. Shefman argued.

He wasn’t alone. Regional Councillor Joyce Frustaglio called for a hold on drive-thrus in new projects.

“Drive-thrus are harmful to your health. You’re forced to sit in your car and breath in fumes from other cars,” Ms Frustaglio said.

Councillor Peter Meffe also heaped criticism on drive-thrus, but offered the idea that the drive-thru might only operate when the bank was closed.

“It isn’t more convenient. These things (drive-thrus) are hindering human contact. They’re making us worse people. I can’t support it,” Mr. Meffe said.

But before council got too far ahead with ideas to ban drive-thrus, planning commissioner John Zipay issued a cautionary tone on the issue.

“The zoning bylaw permits certain places to have drive-thrus. This council could not put a temporary ban on them. You would have to change the bylaw,” Mr. Zipay said.

He also noted the area where the bank would be located is not a pedestrian area, but one that people travel around in their cars.

Mr. Zipay warned councillors that any decision on drive-thrus has to be consistent.

“It has to be done on a comprehensive basis. You can’t say one type of business can have drive-thrus but not another,” he said, adding it was a revelation to him that this might be on the table.

But some councillors had no problem with the bank drive-thru proposal.

“To say no to this application would be inappropriate because it is allowed. I can’t support the change right here,” Regional Councillor Mario Ferri said.

Council approved the application, but Ms Frustaglio requested a report to deal with the issue of drive-thrus for the next committee of the whole meeting.

Mike Ivey’s Business Beat: DQ drive-through sails through

Mike Ivey —  11/12/2008 11:07 am

The last time Madison was arguing over drive-through windows at fast-food restaurants, it turned into a national brouhaha fed by Rush Limbaugh and the Drudge Report.

This time it barely hit the local radar screen.

I’m talking about the approval last week of a new Dairy Queen “Chill & Grill” at 1513 Lake Point Drive as part of the ongoing redevelopment of a neighborhood once considered so dicey, the city changed its name.

The DQ will help anchor a $1.8 million, two-building office and retail project at 1526 W. Broadway on the southeast side.

City officials have been working for years to improve the area formerly known as Broadway-Simpson, which Ald. Tim Bruer once said had the most “drug-infested and decayed apartment buildings in the city.”

But things have turned around over the last decade, helped in large part by the Community Development Authority’s Monona Shores-Waunona Woods redevelopment. That $15 million effort included tearing down the worst buildings, refurbishing others and converting three dozen rental townhouses into owner-occupied condos.

The private sector has also stepped up, with local businessmen Scott and Jim Norton opening the Cranberry Creek Restaurant, which has benefited from the hungry lunch crowd coming across the street from the giant WPS Insurance complex.

With Cranberry Creek apparently on solid footing, the Nortons have now turned their attention to the Broadway Station project a few hundred yards west.

But before breaking ground, they needed a conditional use permit for a drive-through service window for a DQ. The franchise said it wouldn’t locate there without a drive-through, a move developers said would kill the entire project.

The Nortons took their case before the Madison Plan Commission last week, which got an earful from several condo owners who said they feared a DQ with drive-up service would bring more traffic into the area. They also warned about “gang graffiti” and “too many kids running around,” suggesting that tensions in the racially mixed neighborhood remain.

In the end, however, the commission sided with several longtime Lake Point residents who said having a DQ not only provides families a place for ice cream but might also provide some jobs to needy teenagers.

“I see the DQ as an economic development tool,” says Patrick DePula, past president of the Waunona Woods condo association and a former Dane County Board supervisor. “Plus, I’ve got a 7-month old, and it’s kind of a pain to get them in and out of the car each time you want to grab something from a fast-food place.”

Absent, ironically, from the proceedings was Plan Commission member Eric Sundquist, whose remark about rethinking the drive-through windows in light of concerns over automobile idling and global climate change put Madison in the spotlight for a day back in May.

Sundquist’s comments, which appeared here in the June 25 Business Beat column, were sent to the Drudge Report Web site via WIBA’s own Vicki McKenna. The Drudge feature then caught the attention of radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.

Limbaugh used the story to warn his listeners that liberals and Barack Obama are prepared to revoke American’s right to burn as much fossil fuel as they wish.

Now, I guess we’ll see if Rush was right.

Staff Recommendations Revised | July 15th 2008

Changes proposed by planning staff, actually, one person, Gregg Barrett, for the July 15th, 2008 meeting.

As you will see, the previous requirement to amend the official plan before an application for a drive-through could be considered if it was not listed as permitted use in the plan has been removed.


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

Driven to Action – Stopping Sprawl in Your Community

Sprawl consumes large quantities of land, segregates houses from shops and workplaces, depends on cars, and has little regard for the natural environment. In some parts of
Canada sprawl is the largest driver of greenhouse gas emissions.

Of course, most Canadians do not personally build the houses, streets, schools, parks or water lines that make cities possible. But we can set the rules for building sustainable cities and help make the plans that determine how we get to work, school and shopping.

The David Suzuki Foundation’s report, Understanding Sprawl, and toolkit encourages communities to reshape urban areas. We need more dense and compact cities, with better bike paths and pedestrian friendly walkways.

Learn more:

Acrobat Reader 5 or above required for PDFs. Click here to download for free.

Understanding Sprawl contains a toolkit called Driven to Action to help citizens protect their communities from sprawling development. It consists of the following:

  • Getting started (PDF): A brief overview of what you can do to stop sprawl in your neighbourhood
  • Sprawl facts (PDF): Learn why sprawl is a problem
  • Shaping decisions (PDF): Find out how to contact politicians and decision makers and express your concerns
  • Working with the media (PDF): Tips on how to get your message in the news
  • Tools (PDF): Examples of tools to help you get started

A printed version of Understanding Sprawl, containing all of the above elements in an easy-to-use format is available for $10 (to cover shipping and handling). To order, call 1-800-453-1533 or email.

Other resources:

  • Smart Growth Canada: One of the most comprehensive Canadian websites on community growth and development.
  • Ontario Smart Growth Network: The Ontario Smart Growth Network brings together organizations that are working together to stop urban sprawl and promote sustainable communities across Ontario.
  • SmartGrowthBC: Excellent info on smart growth & citizen involvement.
  • Sprawl Busters: An international clearinghouse on big box, anti-sprawl information.
  • Sierra Club: Information and further links on sprawl.
  • Federation of Ontario Naturalists: Good background on sprawl in Ontario
  • Kyoto and Sprawl: This website highlights the connection between sprawl and climate change.
  • West Coast Environmental Law: This publication provides information on how law in British Columbia can be used to promote smart growth.
  • The Pembina Institute: The study examines the relationships between air quality, climate change and urban development issues in an Ontario context.

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

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

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 25, 2008 | 12:54 PM ET Comments58Recommend26

A Calgary alderman says drive-thrus hurt community-building.A Calgary alderman says drive-thrus hurt community-building. (CBC)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.

No new drive-thrus will be allowed in the area around the Chinook LRT station.No new drive-thrus will be allowed in the area around the Chinook LRT station. (CBC)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.

The Impact of the Built Environment on the Health of the Population

Over the past 150 years, clear connections have emerged between our health and the
environment in which we live. But it has not been until the last several decades that
research has been able to provide evidence of these connections. The evolution of the
profession of public health in North America has in large part been all about the
associations between health and the built and physical environment. Although many of
the issues have remained constant since the 1800’s, what is different is the nature of
the ailments and health conditions. From an emphasis on infectious and communicable
diseases in the early 19th century, the focus of health impacts associated with the built
environment in the 21st century is on chronic disease. Cancer, diabetes, respiratory
problems, obesity, cardiovascular disease – all of these highly prevalent diseases are
linked, in part, to the environment in which we live.


Leading the way to cleaner air

Leading the way to cleaner air

In the case of air pollution, the small thing may be a very small car. This is what defines the movement known as sustainability. Modern society pumps millions of tons of carbon emissions into the sky, and the problem of cleaning up the whole atmosphere can seem overwhelming. But sustainability says to start with one little thing. For one Gold Canyon commuter, that meant giving up a big truck and getting a Smart car. For a crew of innovators in Tucson, it means accepting that we’re going to keep emitting greenhouse gases — and building a way to pull them back out of the atmosphere instead.

All across Arizona, people are finding real ways to balance the needs of the planet with the needs of people. Today, The Arizona Republic introduces you to the ways Arizonans are keeping the air cleaner for tomorrow.

New developments can play vital role

One way to clear Arizona’s air of all the stuff that smears our skies and chokes our lungs — the particulates, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone — is to just stop. Stop driving. Stop building things. Stop relying on power plants that belch pollutants.

The sustainability movement would take another approach to air quality: Do something that strikes an enduring balance between the demands of growing communities and the environment.

The problem is, some of the steps people can take to improve the air may seem inadequate or ineffective because the results are not immediately apparent. Ride the bus, form a carpool, even get a neighbor on board and what changes outside?

That is where sustainability’s grass-roots nature can play an important role. Individual acts and personal responsibility are valued and encouraged. What people do on their own can lead to larger steps from business and, ultimately, government leaders.

Bad air is a problem easy to see. Far-reaching solutions remain elusive.

Driving: Americans could save 1.6 billion4 gallons of gas by maintaining proper tire pressure.

Faced with a 64-mile round-trip commute from his horse-property near Gold Canyon and his workplace in Phoenix bought a Smart car.

The vehicle is itself a product of a sustainability initiative, built by a European partnership using recycled and recyclable materials. Its tires don’t even spit the grains of rubber that aggravate Phoenix’s brown cloud.

The car’s defining feature is its size, about 8 feet long and 5 feet wide. Yarina’s 2006 model gets about 50 miles to the gallon and emits less than one-third the carbon dioxide of a typical car.

“It’s incredible what that little car can do,” Yarina said. “It can’t be beat. It’s roomy, parking is a cinch, it handles quick and easy and it climbs like a bat out of you-know-what.”

Yarina and his wife left Tempe 22 years ago, seeking more room for their horses. For a while, he drove a GMC Sierra King Cab pickup, but as gas prices rose, he became more conscious of the money he spent to get to and from work.

After a lot of research, he settled on a Smart car, which earned safety ratings as impressive as its gas mileage. He paid $25,000, a premium over the similarly sized, $14,000 Toyota Yaris.

Yarina shrugs off the up-front cost. He pays slightly more than $20 to fill his gas tank, and after a week’s commuting, there is still a gallon to spare. Studies by the California Air Resources Board have concluded that cheaper operating costs would generally offset the higher costs of low-emission cars and trucks.

bulletTravel: If the entire New York City taxi fleet were converted to hybrids, it would save the emissions of 24,000 cars.

Vehicle emissions are responsible for about 39 percent of the greenhouse gases in Arizona’s air and contribute heavily to concentrations of urban ozone and particulates.

Statewide, power plants make up another 39 percent of the greenhouse gas inventory, but in urban Maricopa and Pima counties, vehicles — cars and trucks on the roadways, construction equipment — account for most of the pollution Arizona’s county governments have set goals to reduce air pollution on a large scale, though the Legislature has declined to extend such goals outside the largest urban areas.

One of the most controversial plans to clean up air on a regional scale is to establish a cap-and-trade system aimed at power plants and other non-mobile sources of pollutants. The government would set air-quality limits, or caps, and then allow polluters that reduce emissions below the cap to trade or sell the difference in credits to polluters that exceed the limits.

Such plans face strong opposition from industry and lawmakers, mostly over who would set the caps and which countries and businesses would bear the greatest burden. In the meantime, smaller-scale efforts are under way across the state.

bullet Air-conditioning: Getting one unit tuned up can save 220 pounds of carbon per year.

In a warehouse-sized building on the south end of Tucson, an upstart company called Global Research Technologies has built a machine its inventors say could work almost like a huge vacuum for air pollution.

The machine is an example of new carbon-capture technology, an idea that is the focus of widespread research among electric-power providers. But while utilities would capture pollutants from a stationary source, Global Research wants to tackle the more elusive mobile sources, such as cars and trucks.

Early prototypes suggest the company’s device, about the size of an industrial shipping container, could remove 1 ton of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in a day, about what a typical motorist produces in 10 weeks of driving.

Once captured, the carbon could be injected into underground rock formations and stored or perhaps sold for industrial uses. Injecting carbon into the ground is called carbon sequestration.

Millions of the carbon capture devices would have to be deployed to dramatically reduce carbon levels in the atmosphere, and the machines would require significant sources of renewable energy to avoid further fouling the air.

But, in an interview with The Arizona Republic last year, Global Research President Allen Wright compared the work in his company’s lab to the Wright Brothers’ first glider.

“Mankind has done big things all its life,” Wright said. “Big stuff shouldn’t be scary. It’s just big.”

bullet Home: Adding weather stripping to your doors and windows can save 1,600 pounds of carbon from electrical generation per year.

Arizona’s three major power providers, Phoenix-based Arizona Public Service Co. and Salt River Project and Tucson Electric Power, are participating in a carbon-storage pilot project near the Cholla power plant in Joseph City.

The project is a test to determine whether the methods would be viable commercially. Carbon dioxide will be brought to the site and pumped about three-quarters of a mile into an underground rock formation, where it will be stored and monitored.

“The challenge is to keep the CO2 down there,” said William Auberle, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Northern Arizona University who has studied carbon capture. “We’re still learning about the technology, about leaks and other issues.”

The Clean Air Act regulates air quality and sets federal standards, but Arizona’s urban areas have struggled to meet those standards. Maricopa County remains under order by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce particulates, the fine bits of dust that can lodge themselves in lungs and impair breathing.

The county got more bad news earlier this year when the EPA set higher standards for ozone, a colorless, odorless gas that can worsen symptoms of asthma and other lung diseases. The new rules could put Maricopa County in violation of the law again.

bullet Trash: When 1 ton of plastic bags is reused, the energy of 11 barrels of oil is saved.

Patti Sand believes the bad air over Phoenix contributed to the death two years ago of her 11-year-old grandson, Joseph Chavez.

Joseph suffered from asthma. He took medication and underwent breathing treatments, but he remained active and in the fall of 2006 joined the school cross country team.

Sand remembers the day he died: Sept. 13. Pollution advisories had been posted. After running for a while, Joseph was hit by an asthma attack. His mother took him home for a breathing treatment, but he still struggled to breathe. She rushed him to Banner Estrella Medical Center in west Phoenix.

Arriving at the hospital a short time later, Sand hurried down a hall and saw nurses hugging and crying. She knew Joseph died later that evening.

Sand contacted the Arizona chapter of the American Lung Association the next day to find out what she could do to help spare other families a similar tragedy.

She learned that 548,000 Arizonans suffer from asthma, one of the highest rates in the nation As many as 80 Arizonans die of asthma each year.

Since Joseph died, Sand has told her story to other families, she’s volunteered her time and she’s raised money for the annual asthma walk, joining the JoJo Team, named after her grandson.

“I feel it’s going to get worse, that it’s going to become a big epidemic if we don’t do something about our air quality,” Sand said.

“One of the things my grandson used to love is the sunsets,” she said. “You look at that sunset and you think, ‘Wow, it’s a beautiful sight.’ But one of the reasons is the air pollution that makes all the beautiful colors.”

Social Aspects – Community

So do we choose to protect and keep non essential items such as drive-thrus or do we choose to re-design our planet in which future generation can live?  The benefits are immense – environmental health, physical health.  People stepping out of their cars symbolize people re-engaging in community. Such a culture shift is a step to encourage people to slow down, walk or bike, and to ride mass transit.  Slowing down is necessary in this fast-paced culture. We must organize and embrace a resistance to the momentum of running.  If we learn how to slow down and nourish ourselves, we can pay more attention to living sustainably and mindfully in our communities.  Many of today’s problems are rooted in efficiency and convenience; we zoom from place to place without slowing down to enjoy the simple joys around us. Sustainable yet slower modes of transportation like walking and biking, getting us out of our cars and help us to do that. This gives us the clarity and mindfulness to recognize things as they are. When you are mindful, you recognize what is going on, what is happening in the here and now. Without mindfulness we make and spend our money in ways that destroys us and other people. We use our wealth in such a way that we destroy ourselves and other people.

Mayors and Elected Officials – Responsibility to Demonstrate Leadership

Although leadership from provincial and federal governments is crucial in negotiating international agreements, setting frameworks and standards and for providing fiscal and financial incentives, when it comes to practical action on the ground, city leadership must take centre stage.  Mayors and elected officials have responsibilities in areas key to taking swift action to reduce emissions, and can show leadership in taking decisive and radical action. It is at city level that innovation and progress on pollution and thus climate change is most likely to be achieved.