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Amendment looks to block 24/7 drive-through food service in city

Timothy Schafer
By Timothy Schafer
April 27th, 2018

A move by a local restaurant to operate a 24/7 drive-through food service this spring is being blocked by city council.

Third reading has passed on a Business Licence Bylaw amendment that will see the city restrict operation of drive-through restaurant services to operating no later than 11 p.m., and opening no earlier than 5 a.m. “to protect future residents.”

The A&W, located in Railtown, had inquired about extending their drive-through restaurant operating hours to 24 hours per day, seven days a week, starting in May 2018. Currently, there is no restriction in the city which would prohibit a drive-through restaurant from operating 24 hours a day.

However, the proposed Business Licence Bylaw amendment council has approved the first three readings of would limit drive-through restaurants from operating around the clock by restricting the hours of the drive through aspect of the restaurant — denying any drive through operation between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

The amendment is aimed solely at one restaurant — the A & W — since the city has a bylaw that prohibits a drive through at a restaurant.

The Railtown A&W restaurant is the only drive-through restaurant inthe city of Nelson (operating hours currently from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.)

According to a city staff report, the business is an existing, non-conforming use since drive-through restaurants are no longer permitted in any zone in the city’s Zoning Bylaw.

In 2013, it was city council’s decision to restrict drive-through restaurants as a permitted use in the Zoning Bylaw.

“The intent at the time was to get people out of their cars and eating and shopping downtown and reduce emissions from idling cars,” read the city staff report.

Another concern was increased business hours because Railtown had just gone through the Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Plan (SNAP), which set out a clear framework for implementation and development in the area.

Under the terms of the plan, close to 140 new residential units are expected in the area over the next 10 years, with a “focus on mixed-use, live-work, and multi-unit development.”

It was suggested that drive-through restaurants that operated 24 hours a day could have a “negative impact on future residents in the area, due to the increased noise from traffic, drive-thru speakers, as well as the impact from the parking lot lighting which would remain lit all night long,” the staff report noted.

A drive through, or drive-thru, is a type of service provided by a business that allows customers to purchase products without leaving their cars. The idea of a drive through was pioneered in the U.S. in the 1930s, but has since spread to other countries, with the first recorded use of a bank using a drive-up window teller was the Grand National Bank in St. Louis in 1930.

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