Nova Scotia

Halifax council committee paves way for possible suburban drive-thru limits

Halifax councillors on the municipality's environment and sustainability committee unanimously endorsed Thursday a recommendation to consider limiting new drive-thrus in suburban areas.

Municipality's environment and sustainability committee sends recommendation for review to council

The thinking behind placing restrictions on drive-thrus is it would reduce the greenhouse gases that vehicles emit while waiting in line. (Mark Crosby/CBC)

Halifax councillors on the municipality's environment and sustainability committee unanimously endorsed Thursday a recommendation to consider limiting new drive-thrus in suburban areas.

"It is not banning," said Coun. Richard Zurawski, the committee chair. "It is absolutely a review of the options."

There are already limits in downtown Halifax when it comes to creating new drive-thrus or expanding existing ones. Similar rules are part of the Centre Plan, which is expected to be adopted this fall and will apply to downtown Dartmouth and peninsular Halifax.

The idea is to reduce the greenhouse gases vehicles emit while waiting in line. The committee's recommendation, which would see the municipality's chief administrative officer review options, now goes to Halifax regional council for final approval.

In an earlier interview, Zurawski said the municipality should be moving away from allowing more businesses to serve customers in idling cars and discouraging what he calls "car culture."

"I worry about the future. I worry about where we're going without some action right now," said Zurawski.

Concerns for people with disabilities

Coun. Lisa Blackburn said in an interview Wednesday that she's heard concerns from people with disabilities. She said people who have difficulty getting in and out of vehicles are worried about where drive-thru restrictions could go.

"I share those concerns as well," Blackburn said. "Yes, we have a car culture. But at the same time, we have to recognize that not all of our residents have the same abilities."

At the meeting, she said she was comfortable with the city's CAO reviewing options.

"I would like to explore what options are out there," said Blackburn. "I mean, we plan for everything else. Why not plan where we want to see these?"

What drive-thru customers think

Zurawski said he's willing to look at the pros and cons, but he thinks it's worth staff's time to examine how to implement the idea.

"In any change, you get those that say, 'This is a great idea' and you get those who say, 'Well, it's going to inconvenience me,'" he said. "It's a difficult idea to implement and there are certain shortcomings with that."

At a busy McDonald's drive-thru in Halifax, customers shared their opinions on the issue.

Michelle Hardy said she uses drive-thrus because they're convenient and quick.

"But I do turn off my car when I'm in the drive-thru if there's a line up because I don't like their exhaust coming into my face either," Hardy said.

Jesse Heeley said he doesn't use drive-thrus often.

Coun. Lisa Blackburn says she's received the most feedback concerning drive-thrus from people with disabilities. (CBC)

"I don't think drive-thrus are the worst thing in the world, but I don't think they're necessary," he said. "If they weren't there, it wouldn't impact my day-to-day life."

David Logan said sometimes drive-thrus just make better business sense.

"If you're a business that's opened 24 hours or something like that and you have to run a limited staff for those hours, it just makes more sense," he said.

"Just because then you can have people come right to the drive-thru and have two or three people working it."

with files from Shaina Luck

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