Nelson council removed drive-thru restaurants as a permitted land use within the city, before finally adopting its new zoning bylaw at Monday’s council meeting.
The 110-page planning document brings changes to every city lot, as it dictates the allowable style and size of new developments.
The old bylaw, which has now been replaced in its entirety, allowed drive-thrus in a number of zones throughout the city. But when drafting the new rules, city staff limited them to the “highway commercial” zone — essentially just five or six properties along Nelson Avenue.
At a public hearing last month, numerous residents opposed the idea of allowing any new drive-thrus and wanted all mention of them struck from the bylaw. Councillors agreed and had them removed as a final amendment before approving the bylaw.
“Having more drive-thrus in our community isn’t necessarily in sync with our sustainability goals and attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our community,” councillor Donna Macdonald said, adding they might also take customers away from local independent businesses.
“When we have people driving into Nelson, we want them to actually come into town and eat at our many fine restaurants — so having drive-thrus in that stretch [of Nelson Avenue] isn’t necessarily a good benefit for our business community.”
Councillor Deb Kozak noted that an average of 1,110 vehicles that pass City Hall each hour on the highway, even with zero drive-thrus along the main road.
“In my view, it’s not good to restrict opportunities,” she said, though ultimately she went along with the unanimous decision of council.
The new bylaw doesn’t impact existing land use. The city’s lone drive-thru restaurant — an A&W in Railtown — isn’t threatened by the decision.
As well, new drive-up restaurants — similar to the Dairy Queen on Nelson Avenue — would still be permitted as long as patrons aren’t served from in vehicles.
If somebody did want to open a drive-thru in Nelson, they could seek a bylaw amendment, which would require public consultation and approval from city council.