Future Drive-Thrus Won’t be Banned in Squamish


More than 20 residents, including the director of the chamber of commerce, spoke against enforcing such a ban at a public hearing in council chambers on Feb. 18.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: Feb. 19, 2014

Future drive-thrus won’t be banned in Squamish, although the issue will be finally decided when the proposal comes up for a zoning review.

Squamish council voted unanimously on Tuesday, Feb. 18, to remove a proposed ban on future drive-thrus from its Official Community Plan (OCP) amendments.

More than 20 residents, including the director of the chamber of commerce, spoke against enforcing such a ban at a public hearing in council chambers on Feb. 18.

A few people also spoke in favour of the ban, but the overwhelming majority of speakers opposed the ban on future drive-thrus in Squamish at the public hearing.

After the public hearing yesterday, council gave third reading to other OCP amendments, but removed Section 5 from the OCP, the section which proposed a ban on future drive-thrus.

Yesterday’s public hearing was a culmination of a long and bitter debate on the future of drive-through businesses in town.

Coun. Susan Chapelle championed the ban on future drive-thrus, saying they promote unhealthy eating, idling, and contribute to pollution. She has also opposed them from a land-use perespective, arguing we need employment lands that can create high, living wages.

Yesterday, however, she too voted to remove the ban on drive-thrus from OCP amendments.

“I listened to the public’s concerns, but I’m also disappointed that this passed,” she said.

She said she was hoping more people who opposed drive-thrus showed up. She also plans to oppose the drive-thrus when they come up for a discussion at a zoning bylaw amendement in March.

“I don’t like looking at them, I don’t want them.”

Dean Terry, the owner of two Tim Hortons in Squamish, said he was very pleased with the decision taken by the council last night.

“I’m very happy and pleased that the community voiced its opinion, and the due process was followed,” he said.

Terry said he had never really seen the proper reasoning for the proposed ban in the first place.

The present drive thru owners also felt the proposed ban would make renovations or lease negotiations difficult in the future.

As of now, the plan to ban has been removed from OCP amendments, but plan on a ban on future drive-thrus still remains in the zoning bylaw amendments that come before council on March 18.


  1. Kate Rurka says:

    A complete waste of valuable time for all involved…are there not more relevant issues at hand.

  2. Dave says:

    “I don’t like looking at them (drive-thrus), I don’t want them.” Susan Chapelle

    How subjective can you get!
    But at least she understood the wishes of the people and voted accordingly, albeit for now, which is what all politicians should always try to do.
    So in March she should do the same, yes?
    We need to have the choices when we are on the road and the market should dictate….not one or two on Council who may or may not be there next time round..

  3. Randal Dean says:

    I totally agree. This seems entirely based on Ms. Chapelle’s personal opinions and biases. Municipal government is not in place to Nanny Citizens by telling them what they can eat or what businesses they can frequent based on the wages that business pays its employees. We live in a free country and our freedom to choose is protected under our Constitution. Town Councillor’s are not in place to dictate land-use based on socialistic concepts like ‘a living wage’. Healthcare, minimum wages, environmental oversight and free-enterprise are areas governed by the Provincial and Federal levels of Government and they are not Municipal responsibilities. Susan Chapelle behaves like she is on a one-woman crusade to foist her personal version of socialism on the business community in Squamish. I find it very interesting that Susan ‘changed her mind’ last night and voted for removing the ban from the OCP and yet she stubbornly claims she will continue (against overwhelming support) to push the ban again in March. Ms. Chapelle should learn to take a hint, earn her wage and find a real issue resolve.

  4. Susan Chapelle says:

    Seems like an odd quote to pick, taken out of context. This was not based on an “opinion” although I do not disagree that it is my opinion, based on research, health care policy, idling contributions to GHG, and of course just plain not wanting the remainder of the 27 lots in Squamish to end up with small footprints and low income jobs. However, I did hear that people were frightened of loosing what they have, and not well informed. The OCP is a place for community vision, and was not the place for a word like “ban”. The policy Doug Race and I and 3 other councillors supported up to this reading was to remove the use from the zoning. This would allow individual applications to come to council for approval, as well as allow existing establishments to remain as is. Last night was a great example of people speaking to the economy. Drive thrus are a poor example of sustainability in economics, except for the larger corporation, and the individual owner. I also listened to Noel’s concern of wanting a jiffy lube and not sure where that fits in. I believe if there is ever uncertainty, that a policy should wait, and go through more extensive public consultation. It should be given better communication. A few people said they did not understand where it came from. Neither did we. The word “ban” never uttered from any of our lips until it came forward into an OCP amendment, when it was only intended for zoning, a softer, more malleable way to protect future development with density, and perhaps local entrepreneurship. The one point I do not buy is that when a drive thru gets busy, you build more and more, and that any policy would remove the ability to do so. That is the intention of the supported zoning amendment. Building more does not ensure that the future does not have a crowded, idling car line up, and is not so much a vision for the small mountain town I moved into. There were some very valid concerns, and I understand. Feel free to have a conversation with me in person. Quotes in a paper can be misleading, and not the intention of the person behind them. I will not “push a ban”. We, as council, will look to future land use, green house gas emissions, evidence based policy, and make decisions that are good for the entire communities future, not just a few. My personal version of policy does include some socialism, and not just capitalism. Indeed. But it will include community, and my opinion is open to change but through evidence and not rhetoric. My taxes go to health care. Most to support disease that is preventable. Lets at least agree on that. Health care is everyone ESPECIALLY a municipalities responsibility through healthy urban design.

    • Randal Dean says:

      I disagree. I think that this quote was spot-on and frankly I think it is disingenuous for you to claim that the quote is taken out of context. I agree that some people are frightened of losing what they have. Ill-conceived anti-business crusades worry people. This is especially so for those people who face losing their businesses, or their jobs, or their ability to feed their children. The word ‘BAN’ is indeed exactly what you propose and to color it differently is ridiculous. You say that you base your opinions on “evidence and not rhetoric”. One only need read any number of your various rants published on twitter and other internet sources to see that this claim is highly questionable. I see by the credentials (published online), that you hold no education or formal training in business, neither economics nor urban planning and yet there are numerous instances where you make statements as if you were an expert on all three. Building code is set by the Province of B.C and the professionally designated Engineers & Architects in the province are professionally bound to design to these standards. Municipal land-use bylaws and zoning rules set out the lot-relational parameters (max height, side setbacks etc) for each of the various zoning designations. The OCP governs the overall plan of the community. Which areas are industrial, commercial, residential, public use, parks etc. When a person decides to apply to build a Jiffy-Lube, her application should be measured upon whether it fits within the requirements of the OCP and zoning bylaw. If the planning department confirms this fit, then the application should be approved. The person should not be subjected to an arbitrary set of personal requirements by Town Councillors. The Jiffy Lube owner should not have to answer questions about whether it will pay a ‘living wage’ or provide preventative health care training, free organic & nutritional lunches for its staff or ‘bike to work’ incentives. As I have pointed out, the Federal & Provincial governments are responsible for making the laws in this country. That is why municipal laws are named ‘Bylaws’. If a building application meets building code and zoning then it should be approved. You do not have the right, or the authority, to make decisions on applications according to your personal whims or political beliefs, especially in areas that you do not have jurisdiction over. I have noticed that on numerous occasions you try to pawn-off your personal opinions as the will of the community. In future, please provide ‘evidence’ that the community concurs. In one online discussion, you write that you want only ‘local banks’. Big banks (in your opinion) do not pay a living wage and remove money from the local economy. This naive statement demonstrates how little you understand about economics. Running a Massage Parlor does not make you an expert on business nor economics. Please be honest about the source of your opinions and your true intent and have the dignity to admit that none of these policy ideas come from the community majority or from evidence-based analysis as you allege. You are correct in that we are all responsible for healthcare… our own. We do not need you making policy decisions regarding our health care or our personal nutritional choices. Again, these are outside your jurisdiction, but thanks for your concern. Yes we all pay healthcare taxes to the Province and Federal government. Municipal taxes do not go directly towards healthcare. You are a Municipal Councillor and you are not responsible for making policy to save us from ourselves, solve world hunger, halt global warming, ban fatty foods or tell us that drive-throughs are ugly. If you really want to do your job, you should be embracing people (like the Jiffy Lube person) and helping them to open a new business and create employment and local tax revenues. A healthy balance can be struck between locally owned businesses and national chains. Employment is the key. If local people do not have jobs, then they will not have money to spend in local business. B.C. is riddled with small towns where big business has pulled out, leaving the town growth-stagnant with local businesses collapsing into insolvency. Most small towns across Canada are struggling to keep industry and have implemented aggressive policy programs to attract new business. Why do you seem so intent of buckling the trend by driving new business away from Squamish? Your utopian view of Squamish will end in failure for the community should it ever come to fruition. Thankfully, most people who live in Squamish have common sense. People know that jobs and growth are important because without growth and new investment, stagnation will have devastating long term effects on the community of Squamish. It will be those same people who will vote for common-sense candidates in the next election. Ms. Chapelle, during the next election you will no longer be a new candidate – you will have to campaign on your record. Perhaps it is time for you to adopt some common sense and start representing the people in your riding according to their views and not solely your own.

  5. Alexandra Suhner Isenberg says:

    Wonderful news, now Squamish can be the capital of fast food drive throughs, dollar stores, and chain stores. Who needs independent businesses and local companies? What a fantastic town it will be.

    • MichaelL65 says:

      Like them or not, those Fast Food Drive Thru’s, Dollar Stores and Chain Stores employ local people. Instead of trying to ban them, and put dozens of people out of work, why not put all that effort into petitioning the Provincial and Federal Governments to enact reasonable minimum wage (i.e – living wage laws)?

  6. Dave says:

    Alexandra. We need them ALL!

  7. larry mclennan says:

    Nicely rebutted Randy- unfortunately the majority of the electorate pays little attention to the regular lading on of professed subjective expertise of this counsellor and others which, upon investigation, appears to be lacking any actual depth of knowledge or expertise. To put it more succinctly, an inordinate propensity to rely on BS baffling brains appears to be the go-to resort for some counsellors. It is interesting to note that when Council does not wish to do something they hide behind the “Its not in the OCP…” excuse but when they want to do something then the OCP is open to amendment. Somewhat arbitrary don’t you think? One can only hope that the next election will help to rid the District of the problem.

    • Randal Dean says:

      Right Larry – I hope the next election will be about the ‘will of the majority’ and not the ‘tyranny of the minority’ lol

  8. Dave says:

    And Alexandra.Here is a shopping list:
    A light bulb, A Gyproc board, A drill, A wide screen TV, A camera, Some jeans, A new Teflon frying pan, some stainless steel screws, some fish, a roast…..All at an affordable price.
    Now take away all the big boxes and chain stores…… then please tell where I can buy these in Squamish…or should I go to Vancouver? Please don’t tell that if these chain stores were not here, we would amply provided for, because I would not believe you. This is 2014 not three decades or more ago.

    • Alexandra Suhner Isenberg says:

      Dave, I never said to get rid of all big box stores and drive throughs and dollar stores. But I don’t want this town turning into one of those places where it is ALL big box stores and drive throughs and dollar stores. We have enough drive throughs, I’m frankly disgusted that this community wants more. And, from your list: jeans, the pan, fish, and the roast can all be bought from independent retailers in Squamish. Maybe you’d pay a little bit more but that money stays in the community and in the long run, that benefits us all. And it is a vicious cycle – you say everything needs to be affordable. Our idea of affordable is going to be pretty damn low if the only jobs in Squamish are minimum wage Tim Horton or Walmart jobs.

      • Dave says:

        Excuse me. Our big supermarkets are union paying and the people working at Rona, Home Depot etc. are not on minimum wages. And we will not likely get any more big boxes or Drive thros because the market will not support it. If the “ban” does go through for Drive-thrus, I just hope that the existing ones will still be able to renovate when necessary. I also hope that you will not shop at any of our supermarkets, big boxes or chain stores so that you may be able to look yourself in the mirror and feel that your integrity is still intact. It might be interesting to ask all of those people , young and older, who are employed at these “terrible , places, what they would feel if these businesses were banished from our town. You might also check what kind of wages many of the existing small, independent businesses can afford to pay their employees if they have any.
        Long live the diversity of choices!

        • Randal Dean says:

          Hi Alexandra,
          All business will be successful based on supply and demand. Wal-Mart, Shoppers Drug mart, Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire, Revy are all dependant on consumers’ demand for their products. If nobody chooses to shop there, then the business will fail. The marketplace dictates this based on consumers’ personal choices. Therefore, it is not up to you or anyone else to hinder a successful business by introducing “bans”. If you want to exercise your personal choice and not shop at Wal-Mart then you are free to do so. The fact that Wal-Mart or Tim Horton’s are busy and successful means there are ample people who choose to shop there. It is also not your concern to question what a business wants to pay its workers. This is up to the people who choose to work at a particular job and what that business offers in terms of compensation and benefits. The Provincial government sets the minimum wage that all companies must abide. Entry level jobs are important in our society because they offer a stepping stone for experience and future growth. Not everyone can start at the top. Besides, there are many staff and management at Tim Horton’s or Wal-Mart that are paid higher than minimum wage but this often seems overlooked by critics. Most of the National chains also donate a lot to their local communities and provide wide ranging benefits to the communities in which they serve. Tim Horton’s Children’s foundation or Ronald MacDonald House are excellent examples. If you feel that Squamish needs more locally owned boutique stores, then you are free to risk your own savings and open one up. If the people of Squamish want to buy your products then you will be successful. If they do not, then you will fail. That is what business is about and it is about your personal choice.

  9. Brad Hodge says:

    This whole episode reminds me of playing SimCity as a kid. I set things up exactly as I wanted, Residential over here, Commercial there, Industrial there. But no matter how much I tried to force the issue, the pesky Commecial only set up where it wanted and the industrial withered every time I tried to mess with it. Trying to force the issue only caused lots to empty.

    I see both sides in this debate. To me the key is being flexible. It certainly doesn’t hurt to encourage a particular vision. But when it becomes clear that vision is not materializing, or worse, that forcing it is causing actual harm, that’s when you need to be able to drop the dogma and be practical. I feel like we have a group of people in this community who came here with a vision of something that it isn’t, and are intent on forcing that vision whether we want it or not. I would advise re-thinking that attitude. Otherwise you end up with empty lots.

  10. Dave says:

    The above stated myth about the exclusive benefits of small independent businesses plowing money back into the community holds no more water than saying that the managers and hierarchy of big boxes and franchises do not. These managers and middle managers mostly live in town, spending in town and many of them take home much more money than the average small business owner (with which to plow back into the community)…just find out where they live!. One well known small business owner actually stated that due to his small profit margin, the only reason he actually stayed in business for so many years was because he loved the process of being independent and was prepared to “bite the bullet” regarding the diminutive bottom line.

  11. heather gee says:

    Yippee ~ more air pollution !