A Saanich councillor asking residents to weigh in on drive-thrus received mixed feedback.
On Monday, Coun. Colin Plant tweeted about a U.S. city banning drive-thrus and asked Saanich residents for their thoughts on the matter.
Plant wasn’t expecting the tweet to get “social media wings,” and turn into “drive-thru-gate,” but many residents replied with their thoughts. The responses were mixed as some thought the environmental benefits of phasing out drive-thrus would be worth it, while others wondered about the impacts a similar ban would have on residents with small children, disabilities or pets.
great idea. Idling cars in a drive thru just isn't environmentally friendly.— Kelly Fisher (@kfisher60) August 9, 2019
I don't use drive-throughs myself but they are useful for elderly, for adults with lots of small children or anyone who remembers having a sleeping baby in a car :-) - or those with pets or disabilities. Is this government leadership or over reach?— Jim Dunphy (@medhatjad) August 10, 2019
“The response was ‘we like the environment but we also like our drive-thrus,’” Plant said.
He noted some respondents thought banning drive-thrus would mean getting rid of existing ones. However, even in Minneapolis, the U.S city that just banned drive-thrus, drive-thrus will simply be phased out as local officials will not approve any more.
He also noted in a follow-up tweet that he spoke too soon, as Saanich’s Official Community Plan already states the District discourages drive-thrus in new developments.
As is sometimes the case, I've come to learn #Saanich already has a policy on this. From our Official Community Plan:— Colin Plant (@ColinPlant2018) August 12, 2019
Policy 4.2.9 "Discourage drive through businesses in order to reduce unnecessary car idling and support more pedestrian friendly development.#yyjpoli #Saanpoli https://t.co/Ulf36bOz5a
This is based on two factors, Plant said. The District wants to encourage less idling in drive-thrus as it’s bad for the environment and seeks to plan more walkable neighbourhoods where drive-thrus are unnecessary.
The existing policy isn’t about taking anything away, he explained, but rather it focuses on limiting expansion. View Royal has a similar policy that prohibits future drive-thrus, but the existing ones remain open, he said.
Other cities in B.C. have similar policies that are specific to each municipality. For example, in Golden drive-thrus are only allowed near highways and in business park zones, while in Qualicum Beach, they’ve been banned altogether.
Currently, a full ban on drive-thrus isn’t being considered for Saanich, Plant reiterated.
There is a fast-food drive-thru being planned at the Chevron gas station at the southwest corner of Pat Bay Highway and Sayward Road in Saanich, but the situation is unique, said Plant. The gas station was already operating a non-conforming coffee bar drive-thru and the company argued that the new restaurant drive-thru isn’t an issue as it’s using the existing window.
Plant noted it’s reasonable for a drive-thru to be grandfathered in if one restaurant leaves a location and a new one takes over the land. However, the nuances of the gas station drive-thru will require a well thought out decision from council, he added.
Saanich News has reached out to the District for comment and will update this story.