Borough strives to promote healthy habits
by John Symon
On Tuesday, the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (CDN—NDG) Borough Council held its regular meeting, approving a draft bylaw to ban new drive-through restaurants over the entire borough territory. The motion was unanimously adopted by the councillors from three different political parties. The next step is public consultation and “no more drive-thrus” could become law by November.
“This draft regulation is intended to promote active transportation and public transit, curb car pollution and the effects of heat islands, and encourage healthy nutritional habits,” reads a text sent to The Times by the borough. Apparently, other municipal authorities, including those in Canmore, Alberta have already passed similar bylaws.
Drive-thrus, such as those found at many McDonald’s restaurants, allow customers to order and purchase food without ever leaving their car. Anecdotally, drive-thrus are often touted as being convenient and saving time. Some families with young children and people who don’t want to dress up also seem to appreciate drive-thrus.
Councillor Peter McQueen (NDG) explained to CBC Radio that the council wants to encourage citizens to visit the borough’s many fine local restaurants on foot, by bike, or by public transit. Existing drive-thrus in CDN-NDG will not be affected by this new bylaw; but no new such restaurants will be allowed as reported by CBC. McQueen estimates there a dozen drive-thrus already in the borough, mainly on St. Jacques Street and Decarie Blvd.
In recent years, there has been much concern about “heat islands” where large expanses of asphalt and dark-coloured roofs can significantly raise local temperatures on hot summer days leading to various health concerns. The architecture of drive-thru restaurants tends to favour large parking lots. The food typically served at drive-thrus also does not have the reputation of being very healthy.
“We know that health is not really our [municipal] dossier,” Councillor Marvin Rotrand previously told The Times. He believes that the borough nonetheless has an important role to play in promoting healthy lifestyles. Smoking in restaurants was banned in CDN-NDG before it became a provincial law.
As previously reported, this same borough has moved to ban junk food and trans-fat food from vending machines and coffee shops on municipal property. The borough is also working with local restaurants to try and remove trans-fat foods from menus.