Efforts to ban drive-thru services in Kelowna shouldn’t come as a surprise - InfoNews

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Efforts to ban drive-thru services in Kelowna shouldn’t come as a surprise

Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
May 07, 2020 - 8:00 PM

City of Kelowna staff’s decision to fight a drive-thru at a proposed Triple O’s restaurant is just part of an almost decade-old plan to cut down on idling vehicles and the greenhouse gases they produce.

“It’s been talked about since 2012, since our first climate action plan,” Tracy Guidi, the city’s sustainability coordinator, told iNFOnews.ca today, May 7. “There were some updates that, initially, restricted drive-thrus just to highway corridors.”

She doesn’t recall the date of that change but the city did study three drive-thrus on Highway 97 in the summer of 2015. In a three-day period, looking at 186 vehicles, they found that the average time spent idling through the line-ups was 4 minutes and 12 seconds.

According to the city’s 2018 climate action plan, the average car emits 69 grams of CO2 every minute it idles so the impact of thousands of cars idling in dozens of food and bank lineups is significant.

The 2018 climate plan calls for a ban on drive-thrus in all the zones along the highway where they are currently allowed. It would not eliminate existing drive-thrus, just new ones.

Guidi expects it will be a year-and-a-half to two years before the bylaws are changed. In the meantime, the city could not stop a drive-thru if it’s in the correct zone.

The reason staff can recommend against the Triple O’s application is because the land – at the corner of Sexsmith Road and Highway 97 – is zoned for industrial use where drive-thru are not allowed.

That means the applicant, Central Valley Truck Services, has to get a development variance permit. That goes to a May 12 council meeting.

In the meantime, the city is far from reaching its greenhouse gas emission goals. The idea is to produce four per cent less of those gasses than they did in 2007. The deadline to meet that target is 2023.

“Denying this application represents a straightforward way to begin implementing the policy direction in the Community Climate Action Plan, and of advancing the City’s goal of reducing GHG emissions,” states a report going to council. “While drive-thrus represent a convenient way for many to pick up a meal, it cannot be said that they are a necessity. Rather, it is a choice, and a choice that comes with a cost.”

Some greenhouse gas emission projects are underway, such as expanding the bicycle path network and installing electric vehicle recharge stations. The Triple O’s application – which is part of a Chevron gas station – includes provision for two charging stations.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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