The general manager of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce says the business organization is pleased the city decided not to move forward with a bylaw change to prohibit new drive-thrus in Vernon’s core.
Earlier this week, city council passed a motion that effectively killed the proposal for now.
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The proposed bylaw change would have seen new drive-thru businesses, everything from fast food to car washes, prohibited in the city centre. However, existing drive-thrus would have been allowed to remain.
“It would be a symbolic gesture to reduce emissions with real consequences to business,” said chamber general manager Dan Proulx.
Proulx points out that the proposed drive-thru restrictions wouldn’t stop people from crowding the drive-thrus that are grandfathered in or using delivery services.
A city staff report included a variety of reasons staff was suggesting the new drive-thru prohibition including the city’s Climate Action Plan goal of promoting active transportation and transit.
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“It is well known that transportation is the leading contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, and if the City is serious about acting on climate change, then plans and policies have to put active transportation and transit first,” the report said.
“Converting to EVs alone will not meet Vernon’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, and…we are still many years away from the majority of vehicles in the city becoming electric.”
The report also said the lineup space needed for waiting vehicles is an inefficient use of commercial land and the space needed for one restaurant drive-through lineup could provide “enough space for two more small businesses.”
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The report added that empty pavement “contributes to the urban heat island effect,” a phenomenon where urban areas have higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas.
The city’s chamber of commerce opposed the proposal arguing a prohibition like this would drive new investment out of town.
“When we think about even just restaurant drive-throughs that can be up to 60 per cent of the revenue for that restaurant,” said Proulx.
“It just isn’t feasible to think that those business models could sustain with the proposed 60 per cent drop in revenue or even remain competitive with those businesses that had grandfathered drive-thrus.”
Proulx also raised concerns about the impact on those with mobility issues and the elderly of restricting new drive-thrus.
City council seemed to agree so it is not pursuing the drive-thru ban policy.
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