City councillors have OK'd the draft of a new bylaw that prohibits drive-thrus in the downtown core and changes restrictions to drive-thrus elsewhere in the city.
The draft bylaw was discussed at a planning committee meeting June 21. The next step in the bylaw revision process will see the draft bylaw go before city council for final approval in the early fall.
All businesses with drive-thru lanes have been under scrutiny as the city overhauls its bylaws. The city inherited bylaws from the former communities that make up the amalgamated city of Greater Sudbury. The overhaul will see a more uniform set of bylaws put in place.
Art Potvin, Greater Sudbury manager of development services, said most cities restrict drive-thrus in downtown areas. He cited increased congestion and the blocking of roads and sidewalks by waiting vehicles as some of the reasons the city is trying to stop drive-thrus in the city core.
The new bylaw would prohibit drive-thrus in the downtown commercial zone, puts a limit on queuing spaces up to and including the space at the pick-up window, and decreases the distance between the end of the queuing lane to residential property from 30 metres to 10 metres. But the bylaw also notes it may be allowable to have drive-thrus in other parts of the city, assuming the designs met site-plan requirements.
Under the new bylaw, existing businesses with drive-thru operations, such as the downtown Tim Hortons, would be exempt from the restriction.
“When we bring in a new bylaw we do not make it retroactive,” Potvin said. He said the grandfathered status allows Tim Hortons to continue as usual, but adds restrictions on the use of the property. For example, the owners couldn't tear the coffee shop down, and put up a pharmacy with a drive-thru attached instead, Potvin said.
Potvin said the restrictions came out of discussions between staff, industry and community groups.
Steve May, a community activist, said though drive-thrus are convenient, it's not a reason to continue supporting what he called a “wasteful and harmful activity.”
According to May, data from Statistics Canada indicates Greater Sudbury has the second highest greenhouse gas emissions per person in the country, due to its heavy reliance on vehicles. May said it was because of the cars.
But Maurice Luchich, a representative of TDL Group, which owns Tim Hortons, said there were environmental benefits to drive-thrus. He said drive-thrus make efficient use of land and reduce the need to build more restaurants.
Naomi Grant, spokesperson for the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury, said she was unhappy that setback of queuing lanes from a residential zone has been reduced to 10 metres whereas before it was up to 30 metres.
“What is our comfort level with a queuing lane about the same distance from our house as one of our neighbour's driveways?”
She also said the bylaw changes would mean new drive-thrus could be permitted in more commercial, institutional, industrial or open space recreation lands.
“A restaurant associated with a school or park could have a drive-thru,” she said.
Both Ward 10 Coun. Frances Caldarelli and Ward 3 Coun. Claude Berthiaume expressed their worries about increasing the number of drive-thrus. They said they were not compatible with efforts to make the city more healthy and environmentally friendly.
Bill Lautenbach, general manager of growth and development, said the proliferation of new drive-thrus was not necessarily a result of the new bylaw. He said each application would have to pass through the planning committee and be approved or disallowed on a case by case basis subject to the usual site agreements and restrictions proposed by the bylaw.