District Mulls Ban on Future Drive-Thrus


By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Jan. 24, 2014

Squamish plans to amend its Official Community Plan (OCP) to restrict future drive-thru businesses in town, a move decried by Canadian restaurant association and local drive-thru business owners as unfair and illegal.

Council voted last month to introduce a policy that will prohibit new drive- thru business in town. 

The new OCP policy (19-5) states that ‘no new drive-thru structures or businesses will be permitted in any zones’.

“The district has no grounds for this prohibition.” Dean Terry, Tim Hortons owner.

Existing drive-thru businesses, however, will be allowed to operate.

Dean Terry, who owns two Tim Hortons in Squamish, said he is extremely disappointed at the district plan to restrict future drive-thrus in town.

“The district has put no grounds for this prohibition,” he said in a letter to the council. 

Terry said his restaurant employs 73 people and he contributes $60,000 in taxes, with another $30,000 going every year to local charities.

Terry also fears the new bylaw, if passed, would create problems in the future renovation of his old Tim Hortons in the business park.

Mark von Schellwitz, the vice-president of Canadian Restaurant & Foodservices Association, said the council has given no rationale for this decision.

“We are trying to be the recreation capital, not the drive-thru capital of Canada.” Coun. Susan Chapelle.

In any case, he added, council has the authority to prevent drive-thrus on a case by case basis and there is no need for a comprehensive ban.

Speaking on behalf of Tim Hortons, Murray Chown said the district is overreaching its legislative power in enforcing this OCP amendment.

The Local Government Act doesn’t provide the legislative power to a municipality to use the OCP to restrict the use of land, he said.

He also said it’s disheartening that the district has made no effort to talk to Tim Hortons at a local or national level.

In Dec 2012, council passed a motion saying the district doesn’t support the further development of a drive-thru in town and asked distrct staff to bring forward an OCP and zoning bylaw amendment.

The origin of this new policy lies in the vigorous yet divisive council debates over the Tim Hortons proposal in the same year.

Councilor Susan Chappelle led the charge, voicing concerns about idling and its negative effect over other businesses.

She stands by her decision.

“We are trying to be the recreation capital, not the drive-thru capital of Canada,” she said.

Coun. Patricia Heintzman said she thinks Squamish already has enough drive-thru establishment.

“I’m waiting to hear what the public says about the drive-thrus,” she said. 

The district is holding a public information session on the amendement on Jan. 27 at the Squamish Seniors Centre at 6:30 p.m., with a public hearing on Feb. 18 in the council chambers.





  1. Dave says:

    This is ridiculous. The number of “Drive-Thrus” and any other restaurant businesses should be dictated by the public demand, not by the misguided whims of “fluorescent green” individuals on Council, whoever we might perceive them to be.
    I doubt whether the present retail market place would support another such establishment anyway, but the existing ones should NOT fear being restricted in future renovations…this is simply not fair! Susan, come on, we can still be the “Outdoor Recreation Capital” and be able get a burger while we drive to the ski hill or grab a take-away sandwich. Whatever is in your “green” mind? I am rather disappointed in this after talking to you recently. I came away from that conversation with more positive vibes.
    Let us not further this “big brother” (or “big sister” mentality). Yes this viewpoint is strong but many of us have had enough! ….Too many “anti this and anti that people” around here. The UK has become a “banning” society…hopefully it will not happen here.

  2. Brad Hodge says:

    I should have mentioned in my other article that my other concern about the OCP is that it might be used for social engineering.

    I don’t have any particular love for drive-thrus, but I see something like this as the thin edge of a wedge in which our betters appoint themselves our parents and decide, in their good judgment, what we’re allowed to have or not have, which is a very subjective and dangerous business. After years of tax increases, I would think the last thing we would want to do is further alienate investors by beginning a process of banning businesses we don’t like or don’t think people should have access to. This is how San Fran ended up with its ban on Happy Meal Toys, in the ludicrous belief that somehow the toy was the linchpin in stopping young kids from craving tasty Chicken McNuggets. But San Fran can get away with that — they have the better weather.

    Anyway, I guess if we have time to allocate to things like this, that means we’ve solved all our other problems already and are looking for things to do. In that vein, I have a little ‘time to lean, time to clean’ list for Council’s consideration. :)

  3. Stephane Perron Mr. says:

    Best news I have heard in while. Nothing wrong with having a vision for our town. And this one I support.

  4. Dave says:

    My vision for this town is for free enterprise by the business community, driven , and reflected, by public demand. The citizens should speak, not partisans on Council who are driven by their own very personal agendas… and not even what they may have originally put forward on their election platforms. You may agree with them now , but many may not, and those people will, sadly, have to wait for the next local election and hope that the same thing doesn’t happen all over again.
    The trouble with our democratic system is that elected officials do not have to follow their elected mandate, which is very depressing.

  5. Susan Chapelle says:

    It’s more about reserving limited land base for living wage jobs, not fast food parking lots. The idling is already banned in our OCP. Don’t worry, the ban is on the future, Tim Hortons is safe, you can still drive through for your McNuggets, and get fast food from one of any of the fast food chains. We have lots. It is about seeing the future land base be densified for employment. Or recreation. Or anything other than trans fats and drive through parking lots. But of course you can still build a fast food joint and not have a drive through. Yes, the current business is great. So happy to have outside industry from Ontario send out representatives to lobby our council to dictate our future land use is fast food drive by for highway digestion. Brad, if our health care system was not full of diabetes and people could pay their own health care costs, we would be golden. LA district 9 had to restrict fast food because the rise in their health care cost was enormous. A good % of their low income households became diabetic. Enough that they had to make some serious decisions. Someone had to lead the charge. Is it a problem getting out of the car? It doesn’t say don’t come, perhaps it should say come and stay. Don’t fill up our landfill. Recycle. Do the right thing.

  6. Donny says:

    Based on the line ups at TH , the public wants drive-throughs. Can anyone tell me how much larger the parking lots will have to be if we all have to stop and get out of our cars.
    Or is this jelousy that the new CIBC will have a drive through and BNS only has a drive – by.

  7. Russell says:

    This is such a crazy conversation I really don’t even know where to begin. With the planet at, or past, the ‘tipping point’ in regards to it’s sustainability, I simply cannot fathom how anybody can condone adding more drive through fast food establishments. Lousy food, idling vehicles, and tons of garbage we don’t need. Tim Hortons will give you a throw away cup so you can ‘roll up the rim to win’ even if you are inside the establishment drinking coffee out of a ceramic cup, DUH, that is simply stupid and so unenlightened that it beggars belief. Canada is far behind some other developed nations that have apparently banned take out containers, period. We, as a nation, are overweight and have a serious diabetes problem. Turn off the car, get out and and move your body, you will live longer. In the process take care to abandon using throw away containers. Your grandchildren will thank you for becoming better stewards of your health, and our environment. Sheesh!

  8. Brad Hodge says:

    Ok thats it Susan, I’m sending this one to Mythbusters. 😉

    I don’t disagree with you one bit about lifestyle and health choices. I would know first hand what some of those choices nearly cost me.

    I agree health care costs are out of control, however coming from a family of medical professionals I have bee thoroughly told the problem is the very design of the public system, not diabetes from McDonalds. I don’t take well myself to the government mandating my health care. I got to experience that first hand some months ago and I am not at all impressed.

    The thing I worry about though, as always, is precedent. I of course trust that you have the best of intentions. But someone else might not. I don’t want to risk opening that door by waving the green flag here. Further I think this exercise demonstrates the very subjective nature of these sorts of policies. No one csn argue that marijuana is necessarily good for you, but Council saw fit to ok legalization anyway.

    Secondly I dont support this because we have many other fish to fry. Our entrance sign has been down for what.. a year? And before that it sat U less for months because apparently we couldn’t afford to buy a vowel. We have time for this instead? And thats to say nothing of dikes, punitive business taxes and so on. We have more than enough on our plate without confusing the role of municipal councillor with federal MP.

    Doesn’t mean I intend to vote against you though. A conscience is s good thing. Just means I might want to put a few more polar opposites to balance. 😉

  9. Gord says:

    Typical what is next a ban on coffee shops in the downtown core, how about dollar stores ban them too, cold beer and wine store’s. People think we are going to get a bunch of living wage jobs in this town it is not going to happen our commercial retail space is already way to big for the population size of Squamish. We need more people moving and building here and not red tape that we are already know for.

  10. Andrew says:

    Good move, less idling is a good thing. Drive through is laziness anyway.

  11. Dave says:

    How about a ban on Gas stations….who sell fossil fuels which produce greenhouse gases….all mostly single story even!, Casinos which further the “evils” of gambling thereby contributing to the moral decay of our town. Many tried to get rid of Dollar Stores, those purveyors of cheap goods. Then there’s pubs and liquor stores…we all know how they put a burden on our health system. Really! Why should we have choices anyway? Let’s put our faith in those on Council who can fix it all.

  12. Dave says:

    Sorry Gord…Didn’t see you comment when I wrote the above…bit of repeat but never mind!

  13. Alexandra Suhner Isenberg says:

    Wow, I’m shocked that the district is actually doing something good for the community. We have enough drive throughs, I’m thrilled there won’t be more.

  14. Mr. Charles says:

    I support this 100%
    We have enough drive-throughs, strip malls and big box stores.

  15. JP says:

    What concerns me is that we have members on council (Sue and friends) who have absolutely no idea on economics and business. The lack of understanding and foresight on this OCP is a joke. This type of backward thinking, nimby rhetoric that Sue, Patty, Bryan and their followers talk about is the exact reason nothing gets done in this town. This type of protectionist talk scares away capital and investment.

    Maybe we should lobby against mountain bike trails for the stress it causes on our health care system due to all the biking injuries. Broken bones, strains, soft tissue damage, concussions, broken backs, knee injuries, and many more are common injuries that my friends have experienced from using our local bike trails. Hold on…. Sue’s business actually benefits from these types of injuries.

    Sue – you must get off your high horse here and get in touch with reality. Just because your business has a “low impact” on the environment, your business still relies on growth, and capital investment in this town. We have enough challenges in this town than worry about the extra emissions from a few drive thrus.

    I have a great idea instead – Why don’t we reduce property taxes and the burden on the taxpayer and maybe we can get more businesses like Tim Hortons come to town and pay $60,000 in taxes to fund all of the “green” initiatives and donate $30,000 to the many community groups in need. Those employees at Tim Hortons usually spend their wages in town and in most cases bring their families here to Squamish and pay taxes. But of course if Sue and friends have their way, it would be more of the same – increased SPENDING, increased TAXES, more redtape, and increased spending on “recreation”. When my friends to come up from Vancouver to use the our trails they leave the city at 8:00am, get here at 9:00, bike or hike for a few, grab a snack then GO HOME!

    What’s next? A motion to stop Woodfibre LNG and the millions of tax dollars it can provide to the municipality?

  16. Auli Parviainen says:

    I don’t frequent drive throughs, don’t like them and wouldn’t have wanted to see as many as we already have. That said, this ban is just really poor policy making and I am surprised that it’s come this far. Bans, like prohibitions, are proven not to work effectively in almost any context. However, I would also question any argument that leaves these types of issues to supply and demand alone. Capitalism is a system, Brad, and a rather young one at that. The central idea of demand stemming from the free will of people to choose what they buy is flawed to say the least when a concentration of wealth guarantees access to financing and media. It is very challenging for what could be viable alternatives to enter into the marketplace when the whole system is so stacked against them right from the start. I see the need to develop progressive policy that fosters and encourages diverse alternatives in the supply side. This is not going to happen by banning drive throughs, but rather through proactive and holistic zoning that spells out clearly what we as a community want. So instead of focusing so much energy on detailed piece and banishing we should be developing a more holistic land use policy, especially around the highway corridor.

    Susan, I am really confused as to how you propose this ban will help any of the other things you note like availability of fast food or diversification and preservation of land use for employment. Should we not be looking at our whole highway corridor and what it is zoned for? For instance, our last piece of highway front Tourism Commercial is going through a process to get it rezoned to residential. If we want people to stay and do then ought we not ensure offer them reasonable options for entertainment and activities? Or shopping (and need not be an unattractive strip mall)? And what about industrial land base and more lucrative employment opportunities? How is this policy in any way securing that?

  17. Brad Hodge says:

    ‘Capitalism’, as a term to describe what is in essence the free market, is relatively young as a term, I suppose (I think the first references are in the 17th century, with Marx adopting it more expansively and derisively later). The free markets are not a system nor are they an ‘ism’, they are just what people do naturally, namely trading things. Trade has been around since the beginning of time and has generally outwitted every attempt by clever people to control it. Not young at all.

    ‘It is very challenging for what could be viable alternatives to enter into the marketplace when the whole system is so stacked against them right from the start.’

    I have issues with this line. How is the ‘system’ stacked against alternatives? New ventures are always at a (initial) disadvantage to incumbents. But as time as shown, those alternatives eventually take root and become incumbents themselves. Look at ‘gluten free’ or ‘local farming’. The system is not stacked. It takes time for a business or product to create awareness. That process is not helped in the least when policymakers take it upon themselves to subjectively decide what people should be choosing ahead of the market. Politicians are lousy fortune tellers.

    Separately, JP raises an interesting point. Where is the line between acceptable self harm and unacceptable, and who gets to decide? I’ve seen firsthand the injuries that result from the various risky activities partaken of in Squamish, but I never hear the people who bemoan rising health care costs making similar ‘anti drive-thru’ arguments against those activities. Cannabis’ health merits are dubious, but there Council advocates a regulate and tax approach vs. outright ban. What makes one more acceptable than the other, other than the individual Councillor’s own beliefs about each individual item? Dangerous territory.

    This isn’t to say that this Council has been a disaster by any means, it has moved the ball meaningfully during its term, esp. infrastructure. And I find this particular crew to be more thoughtful than some previous. But stubborn bad habits persist: pretensions to ‘urbanity’, clunky regs, a tendency to consult things to death, high taxes and wasteful spending. And lastly, a tendency to waste time on issues that are outside the scope of municipal government. This is a distraction we do not need using time we do not have.

  18. Rob says:

    Building a cohesive community means to NOT let any one particular minority interest have unproportional representation and input. That means balanced business development. This thing about given business 100% free reign as “it brings investment” is absolute nonsense. You have to be very ignorant, lazy – or be named Dave, to not understand the negative impact of drive-thru’s. Before commenting, please do a 5 min web search on why we want to avoid drive-thru’s.

  19. Elliot says:

    You people touting free market are ridiculous and completely missing the point. Since not all retail locations can have a drive-through physically, the current advantage (partial monopoly on convenience by national corporates) is NOT a fair market situation, especially not to small locally owned business. Plus, it’s a proven fact that when people stop and get out of their car they are twice as likely to spend more money at more than one shop. Here, in Squamish, NOT grab a plastic food snack and straight to Whistler to spend the dollars. Bravo Susan and Council for this move!

  20. Brad Hodge says:


    Here’s an actual link with an actual study on GHG emissions, etc.

    I think of drive-thrus as kind of slothful generally, as most conveniences are. But I think the case against them is not as straightforward as people would like to believe. I would, for example, rather have a small footprint drivethru than a large footprint conventional restaurant with acres of parking spaces and traffic. And I am doubtful about claims of people being twice ‘as likely’ to shop if forced to stop. I know for a fact that has had zero influence with me when I’m on the road.

  21. Dave says:

    Just so you know, ROB, I hardly ever use the drive thru facilities (five years ago, I think), I don’t care for them. , though I have been known to STOP at a Wendy’s for a quality Burger OR Tim Horton’s…but really not often.
    But I do like the choice when I am travelling from a to b. You would wish to ban them while implying people named Dave are ignorant and lazy. Should I assume that all people named Rob are wise, or would this be ignorant? Most Drive Thrus provide a choice to sit in the restaurant or drive thru and these choices we should have. If your motive is to exclusively channel people to Downtown then all Malls and any near highway facilities should be banned too. Not my choice however. Apparently you would love to take away this choice. The idling argument doesn’t really work. Very often I have had to drive round and round several blocks in Downtown Squamish looking for a parking spot because store owners have taken all the excess spots on Cleveland or Second avenue. Live and let live and leave us the choices please and be a bit more polite eh!

  22. Rob says:

    Dave, you are right, I should not have made it personal – I’m sorry. Better for people to be engaged, right or wrong, than just sit back and be passive.

  23. Just Saying says:

    I have kids, a job, I bike, go to the gym and run, ski and try to buy locally. Love Squamish. But……. once in a while I use drive through. It’s easy, saves time on the way to the hill, and frankly, having 5 kids in a car can make a 3-minute coffee and snack grabbing turn into 30 min if I had to go in. Should I feel guilty? Are you calling me lazy? Please, stop telling me how to live my life, please leave me a choice. Don’t call me lazy because I occasionally chose not to get out of my vehicle to get my coffee, which, by the way, does not cause diabetes.

  24. Mike says:

    You will not stop people driving through Squamish by banning drove through establishments. This includes food services, banks and maybe one day the drive through pharmacies that will be needed to serve our aging population. All drove throughs are not the evil menace some council members would have you believe.

    You can, however, stop people from driving though Squamish by giving them a compelling reasons to stop.

    Banning business development, other than down town doesn’t help this cause.

    Sue I hope you have no plans to open a second business of any kind in this town. I am one of many that will fight you tooth and nail to make sure you are opposed at every turn based in your anti anything but down town attitude and your ill advices comments concerning the success of the Tim Hortons franchise owner. What was it you said, “why does he need a second location, he already has one, isn’t that enough.” It’s a sad day when your municipal government opposes your new business plans because of your current or previous success. Simply foolish and reckless.

  25. Dave says:

    Thank you “Just Saying”. You have said it much better than me. We must have the choice and not be dictated to by the few who are temporally elected and who wish to press their own personal lifestyle agendas upon us. I say this because these types of decisions cannot easily be reversed when a more enlightened Council is put in place. Though I do not think that there is, right now, any need for more fast food outlets, the existing ones must be able to modify and renovate theirs at will to suit the efficient running of their businesses. And Rob, I accept your apology….impressive.

  26. Dave says:

    Auli. I will vote for you, should you stand for Council, because you think holistically. We need more of that, rather than the “tunnel vision” that we so often see of late. In short you are intelligent and also think…..the two don’t always go together. I have followed you on Facebook and here…of course, I may not agree with everything you say :-)

  27. Russell says:

    Brad, our viewpoint differs with regard to the drive thrus, with you against the so called ‘ban’ and myself supporting the ‘nudge’ from council on this issue. However, I am super happy that you take such a balanced approach in your commentary, and recognise that the current council has ‘moved the ball meaningfully’ during its term. Even though I have been frustrated with them from time to time, when issues that I thought at least four of them could work together on got bogged down, I have been encouraged by their ‘thoughtfulness’, and the progress made. The ideologies of the majority of them match my own for the most part. They are actually ‘ahead of the curve’ with this (drive thru) issue, it’s just unfortunate that the free market has not beaten them to it.
    I believe that the mayor and the entire council are very pro bringing new business to town. This is a big mountain to move, and we all need to see the ‘big picture’, get behind them, and not get bogged down ourselves with the small but important statement that this drive thru restriction makes. The ORCC should, IMHO, shout “we are healthy and active over here”. This will be more easily accomplished with fewer drive thru/fast food style businesses grabbing highway traffic.
    Many have moved to Squam. to take advantage of the OR opportunities on their (new) doorstep. These folks live here, support the local economy, pay taxes, and hopefully more and more of them are able to work locally as time goes along. I’m guessing however that these same folks are not regular patrons of the drive thru establishments, but care more deeply about their own and the planet’s health. The ‘new’ Squam! Thanks.

  28. larry mclennan says:

    And lo-Mosusie came down from the mount bearing the tablets which listed the 4 basic food groups and banning the trans-fats among other top down mandated dietary dos and don’ts and saw the tribe of Squamish and tourists from out of town. And the entire crowd had reverted to idle-atry and were esconsed in their motorized baal-ewicks and reving their engines-the more zealous with blown head gaskets- while surrounding the golden arches as the celebratory fumes and smoke rose higher and singing “you deserve a break today…” in loud and joyous harmony to their hallowed corporate rep- RON. And Mosusie looked skyward and wailed a long and loud NOOOOO !!! such that her tonsils were visible to over flying crows. And Mosusie took the dietary tablets ( not the pill form tablets-the ones that were etched in stone) and smashed them on the parking lot (which was smaller because the drive thru’s provided that less customers would have to park) . And Mosusie declared “A curse on you and your fast food , I know what’s best for your dietary choices”. And the crowd told Mosisie to go stuff a burrito where the sun don’t shine. Mosusie then ran on about District 9 in LA where a temporary ban on new fast food restaurants in that district was enacted in 2008 because of obesity. Mosusie didn’t bother to mention that the ban didn’t mention drive thru’s as the problem. Mosusie also didn’t mention that ,according to the Community Health Councils Inc. submission , 60% of the fast food restaurants’ business (those which had drive thru’s) came from the drive thru windows and that a ban on new drive thrus would have the same effect as a an outright ban on on new fast food restaurants even opening up . As to the health of District 9 residents, Mosusie didn’t point out that the population of District 9 was over 96% non-white, low income and that nationwide in the USA national diabetes stats show that Asians are 18% more likely to have diabetes, Hispanics 66% more likely and Black a whopping 77% more likely. West LA on the other hand is a toney affluent area where the racial mix is reversed with a majority white population and overall much higher income and standard of living. Apparently Mosusie couldn’t tell the difference between LA’s Area 9 and Squamish or she just chose to be selective in her anti-fast food/drive thru information she dispensed. Mosusie apparently also didn’t consider that folks on lower incomes tend to eat low priced (and starchy) foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta which, as a regular part of the diet at home can have a much more significant effect on the peoples’ health than the odd fast food item.
    Given that the above observations are true a modest proposal with regard to dietary restrictions Council may want to impose on the people is suggested:
    All starchy foods (and sugars) should come with a warning label-much the same as on sees on cigarette packages (complete with graphic picture) WARNING: Consumption of this food product may cause you to blow up like a bullfrog in heat- and have a photo of Mike Duffy clad only in a thong – that should destroy most peoples’ appetite for some time . These food products , of course would be sold from behind secure counters and not to minors. Enough of this , I’m heading for a Big Mac.