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LETTER: Keep away from the drive-through

The garbage and exhaust produced as a direct result of the business’s success is “externalized,” to use economic jargon.

Congratulations to Nelson City Council for passing a new zoning bylaw that does not allow for any new drive-through restaurants in the city.

This move is in keeping with a stated desire to reduce Nelson’s greenhouse gas (mainly CO2) emissions. Drive-through restaurants are a throwback to the early 1950s when fossil fuel was abundant, cars were synonymous with freedom, doctors were still appearing on cigarette advertising, and climate change was unheard of.

Times change and business models must also evolve to reflect the new reality. A business model that relies entirely on selling food in single-use containers and utensils to people waiting in a line of idling cars is not a socially or an environmentally-responsible one.

The garbage and exhaust produced as a direct result of the business’s success is “externalized,” to use economic jargon. The City/RDCK pays for most of the waste disposal and the automobile exhaust costs are spread like a fog over the entire population, ultimately contributing to global climate instability.

Tim Hortons, one of the rumoured drive-throughs often mentioned as “missing” from our city, is worth looking at more closely. Its public image is carefully crafted and “woven into the fabric of Canada.”

It is the largest publicly-traded fast food chain in North America with 4,304 outlets. Their baked goods are prepared in a factory in Brantford, Ontario and trucked over 4,000 km to BC where they are “finished” in local franchises. Most of their coffee is roasted in a $30 million facility in Hamilton. Their famous “roll up the rim to win” campaign demands that you purchase a single-use disposable cup in order to be able to win.

The allegations of unfair working standards made by Filipino temporary foreign workers at the Fernie franchise are not isolated; they exist in several locations across Canada and investigations are ongoing.

One has to ask why a company cannot find local employees able to pour coffee and sell doughnuts in a place like Fernie.

The number of thriving local coffee shops in Nelson, each distinct and offering a slightly different selection of locally-produced foods and Nelson- or BC-roasted coffee is a testament to Nelson’s entrepreneurial spirit. If your friendly barista has been working for the same coffee shop for close to 10 years, it seems likely that their wages and working conditions are quite acceptable.


David Beringer