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Halifax wants to reduce emissions by limiting drive-thrus
Drive-thrus are a convenient option for those in a rush and needing a quick bite to eat.
But Halifax Regional Council is looking at shifting gears when it comes to the environmental impact of fast food.
Many Maritimers might hit up a drive-thru for quick refreshment on a hot sunny day, but if one Halifax councillor has his way, we could see fewer drive-thrus on the peninsula “if we're going to have social justice, if we're going to have environmental responsibility, and fiscal responsibility,” said Halifax Regional Coun. Richard Zurawski.
On Thursday, Halifax's Environment and Sustainability Committee unanimously endorsed a recommendation to consider limiting new drive-thrus in suburban areas.
The idea is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from idling vehicles.
“We really can't afford to continue to build this way in terms of GHG emissions, to continue to build a city that caters to cars and also increase GHG emissions,” said Kelsey Lane of the Ecology Action Centre. “It's really key that we shift our mindset, and think about how we can support sustainable forms of transportation and not just cater to cars.”
A recent study from the University of Alberta reports 22 Canadian municipalities have a partial ban on drive-thrus, with five more municipalities passing a full ban -- something Halifax is not considering at this time.
“We're not looking to eliminate drive-thrus that currently exist, what we're saying is that not every single location or single branch needs to have a location, especially if it's in a walkable, bikeable, transit-accessible location,” Lane said.
But some are concerned about the impact that limiting drive-thrus will have on those who have mobility challenges.
“They're a luxury for a lot of people, but for some people they are a necessary thing,” said accessibility advocate Paul Vienneau. “For me, just with my chair getting in and out of the car, it takes a while to do this and get inside and pay, so full-serve gas stations are a really important service, and drive-thrus are too.”
Vienneau says he's hoping to work with council to find a solution.
“Disabled or not, we all live on it, and if there is a way for our community to contribute a way to make things better without missing out on all the things we really need to do, then we should explore those things too,” Vienneau said.
City staff will now write a report on the options on limiting drive-thrus.
Those recommendations will be approved by the chief administrative officer (CAO) before eventually reaching council.
There are already limits in downtown Halifax when it comes to creating new drive-thrus.
Zurawski says if passed, the motion could help the city towards its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 2040.
“In five years, we have to lower our emissions by 50 per cent from where they were,” Zurawski said. “If this helps me get there that's great, but there are many, many other initiatives.”
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Allan April.