Vernon council decides not to go ahead with drive-thru ban

Drive-thru ban shelved

Vernon will not move ahead with a drive-thru ban in the downtown core.

The city’s climate action plan and city centre neighbourhood plan both call for the elimination of drive-thrus downtown.

Bylaw amendments were ready for council’s approval to bring policies in line with those plans, but council opted Monday to simply receive recommendations and alternatives assembled by city staff, ­with no plans to bring the issue back to a future meeting.

Mayor Victor Cumming and Coun. Brian Guy wanted to know what the experience has been in other municipalities with downtown drive-thru bans.

Guy tried and failed a couple of times in efforts to have city staff dig up more information about whether such bans work.

“Lake Country did this and experienced a list of applications to vary it and a lot of them were successful, so it has in my opinion not worked in other neighbouring communities,” said Coun. Brian Quiring.

Quiring said a ban would particularly hurt seniors and cover a large area – from 25th Avenue to 43rd, he said.

“Drive-thrus are a necessary evil when you have people in cars,” he said.

“I don’t think we’re ready for it yet. I’m sympathetic to the climate action plan (but) I think it’s premature.”

Coun. Teresa Durning thought it was unfair to single out drive-thrus for causing vehicle emissions when “things like red lights, crosswalks and train crossings also cause idling issues.”

Coun. Kari Gares said such bans may not be needed as the number of electric cars and vehicles with idling shut-offs grows. The staff report, however, said the transition to EVs will take longer than some think.

“The climate action plan assumes that all cars on the road will be electric by 2050,” the report stated. “However, over 50 per cent of cars on the road in Vernon are over 10 years old. Therefore, it is assumed that all fuel-powered vehicles will not be off the roads by 2050, and continuing to build drive-through uses would mean over 30 years of fuel-powered vehicles idling in more queues.”

Gares was also concerned banning drive-thrus for new businesses only would create an uneven playing field. Drive-thrus are keeping some businesses afloat, she said.

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce came up with a long list of reasons to oppose a drive-thru ban.

“In terms of restaurants, more than 60 per cent of a business’ revenue can come from customers using a drive-thru. It isn’t feasible to think that those business models could sustain a 60 per cent reduction in revenue potential or remain competitive with grandfathered businesses that currently operate with drive-thrus,” wrote general manager Dan Proulx in a letter to the city.

“With a growing population, there will be increased congestion at existing drive-thrus and that will add to emissions,” Proulx wrote.

“Parking and walking into a restaurant or a bank are not feasible for those with mobility issues, including many seniors. Vernon has a higher percentage of seniors than most communities,” he added in a letter cited a few times at the council table.

More Vernon News