Drive-Thru Debate Turned Circus.

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KevBo avatar

Drive Thru
Drive Thru,
originally uploaded by
jasonawhite

The 60,000 people who opposed a ban on drive-thrus in London can celebrate tonight. Through our democratic system their voices were heard loud and clear by council and committee and such a ban has been averted by the will of the people.

Though the proposal was never about banning drive-thrus, committee members, private industry, and activists quickly decided to steer the debate in that direction despite the fact that as we heard tonight the city had no intention or means of implementing such a ban.

The industry who opposed the use of the city’s official plan to regulate business development backed the new proposal going to council that sees the use of zoning bylaws to manage growth at tonight’s meeting. But citizens concerned with the environmental and social impacts of drive-thrus continued to call for a ban.

That’s where the meeting quickly began to degenerate – citizens with environmental concerns were asked to direct their submissions to the committee that deals with environment concerns rather then at tonight’s meeting of the Planning Committee. However that request was ignored by a number of citizens who attempted to deliver their presentations anyways, creating quite the scene at Centennial Hall.

One citizen began a slide show presentation going over talking points from Al Gores film on climate with an image the majority of the audience found rude and abrasive. He also took the opportunity to describe the use of people with disabilities in the campaign for drive-thurs as disgusting, however another disabled gentleman spoke in favor of the same campaign.

Several more incidents occurred where the Chair had to stop the speaker, including one woman who took a shot at people earning minimum wage and criticizing them for participating in the public meeting. Another saw a speaker begin to argue with members of the crowd about his superior education. These and more had Councillor Caranci apologizing to the crowd for the rude and disrespectful behaviour, which mostly emanated from anti drive-thru activists.

In the midst of the circus a few good points were brought up, such as the issue of businesses abutting residential zones, climate change at such a small level being less effectual then other initiatives the city could take, and the consensus that the city should develop a study into carbon emissions.

As someone who has sat on municipal committees, Planning and Development being one of them, I don’t envy the abuse the members must have received if tonight’s meeting was any indication of the peoples’ nature. However these meetings tend to bring out the extremists.

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9 Responses to “Drive-Thru Debate Turned Circus.”

  1. fowgre Says:

    John: I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t attend the public participation meeting beause I wanted to speak to the committee from my perspective as a pedestrian safety activist. You say that there was some discussion about business abutting residential, but was there any mention about the danger to pedestrians because of lack of oversight during the design phase of approving drive-thrus? Also, did you happen to record the wording of the motion that was passed, and how the vote split?

  2. Pat Says:

    I am so glad I don’t live in London. You peeps are crazy!

  3. picard102 Says:

    I don’t have the specific wording, but from what I recall it was passed unanimously. No one brought up pedestrian concerns specifically, but it seemed like they might address that sort of concern in through the design of properties, and the ECT.

  4. Toban Says:

    I was there last night, and I find that you’re misrepresenting the event — in some respects:

    > citizens with environmental concerns … creating quite the scene at Centennial Hall.

    They certainly weren’t the only ones who were raising other issues.

    Did you notice the blue t-shirts (http://www.lfpress.ca/cgi-bin/publish.cgi?x=galleries&s=gallery&p=2546&pg=6), for instance
    ?

    There also was ‘free market’ libertarianism, a speech on disabled issues (which are important, but which were a tangent in that context), comments on fast food employers, etc.

    > rude and disrespectful behaviour, which mostly emanated from anti drive-thru activists.

    What about all of the industry propaganda? How respectful has that been? They’ve been pressuring people, and trying to deceive them.

    > another disabled gentleman spoke in favor of the same campaign

    Not exactly. He said that drive-thrus are a convenience for him rather than a need. The industry lobbyists stress how drive-thrus are needed by disabled people.

    > these meetings tend to bring out the extremists.

    Given the rest of your post that comes across as saying that the “extremists” are the environmentalists — and only the environmentalists. (Perhaps all of them?)

    > one woman who took a shot at people earning minimum wage and criticizing them for participating in the public meeting.

    You’re totally convinced that those blue-shirted people just came on their own accord? — without any sort of incentives or pressures?

    And, actually, that woman said that she hoped that Tim Horton’s was at least paying minimum wage to the people attending the event to help with the industry lobbying. She didn’t say that there is anything wrong with minimum wage jobs.

  5. Toban Says:

    > 60,000 people who opposed a ban on drive-thrus

    > the will of the people.

    What about the industry muscle involved? Doesn’t that taint the situation *at all*?

    They’ve used their stores to present a position on the issue and to collect signatures, they’ve used their capital to spread their messages, etc.

    Environmentalists and others with competing views don’t have those resources.

  6. picard102 Says:

    How is blue shirts causing a scene? And the chair didn’t have to repeatedly tell the libertarian, or the disabled activist to repeatedly get back on point or threaten to cut off their mics. In fact they were for the most part quick and compliant and didn’t garner disgust from the committee members or the rest of the audience.

    Industry lobbying isn’t disrespectful, it’s a fact of politics and no more or less desirable then anyone else’s propaganda at the meeting. Like how you dismiss the opinion of one person who likes drive thrus becuase it doesn’t conform to your opinion, and try to spin it into a negative, or the woman who made fun of minimum wage earners in quite the condescending tone. How is that any better then industry spin?

    No where did I say environmentalist are extremist, just the ones that caused the ruckus were. There are plenty of environmentalists that are moderates.

    As for the industry pushing an issue I do not think it factors in to the debate any more in that they worded it slightly odd in that it was a ban they were opposing. If Tim Hortons started a campaign to allow the sale of meat made of human babies I doubt no matter how big of a push they made, would receive a similar response. People are not going to get behind a position that is too crazy, no matter the money backing it. Just becuase others don’t have the funds to promote their message doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t.

  7. Kevin Says:

    I was unable to stay for the entire public meeting and had to leave for another engagement at 5:30, so my comments can only be based on what I saw and heard up until that point, although from what I heard things turned in to very much the “gong show” that I intended them to be.

    As with most public meetings involving a “big ticket item”, such as drive-thrus, people find it an appropriate time and place to try and put one their own one man/woman show. This was proven beyond belief of what I saw the other day.

    Many of those who took their time to speak had something educated and informative to say, whether they were representing their community, their business association or those that they represent on the political stage. However, these well make comments were all but forgotten about when others chose to use their public meeting to get their voice heard, either regarding other issues not specifically related to the issue at hand, or things of a completely different nature.

    Although I fully support and believe in the public meeting as a necessary part of the planning (and political process) I think that in some ways it needs to be refined and controlled so that we do not get the type of scene that was visible the other night, and on so many other occasions.

    Now to the case at hand. Whether you wear a blue shit, are in a wheelchair, represent large corporations or have your work uniform on you need to understand one very important thing: none of this matters!! When it comes down to it what matters are the following things: the facts pertaining to the subject at hand and what is in the public interest. Just because 100 people in blue shirts came to a public meeting does not mean that their standpoint is in the best interest of the public. Just because you work at Tim Horton’s and are worried about loosing your minimum wage job is not the issue here, although I fully understand and respect where you are coming from you cant stand up there and bitch about how you are singularly effected (well you can, and technically you are allowed, but in the big picture that doesn’t mean jack shit). What you do need to do it present your case, citing facts and the reality of how this would effect the public and the public interest. Those on both sides of the argument had representatives (both formal and informal) that presented the facts, the realities and whatnot in an appropriate and effective manner, however, this was more than hindered by the remainder of the “crazies” out there that had a personal vendetta with the city, the industry, their employer or even themselves.

    With any public meeting things would have been far more effective and productive if people had of stuck to the topic at hand instead of bringing forth issues that are concurrently being dealt by other committees and processes within the city.

  8. NIAC Says:

    Toban, I am not sure I understand your motives?

    “You’re totally convinced that those blue-shirted people just came on their own accord? — without any sort of incentives or pressures?”

    Absolutely.

    GRR … meeting … I will return. 🙂

  9. Toban Says:

    There are more comments on this here:
    http://tobanblack.net/blog/?p=250#comments

    And I’ve posted here about the industry lobbying:
    http://tobanblack.net/blog/?p=251

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