Drive-thru regulations idling

Dave Bartlett
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The City of St. John's planning committee has adopted new guidelines in principle covering drive-thrus, but it will be the new year before they are implemented. Photo by Gary Hebbard/The Telegram

Developers will soon have guidelines governing where drive-thrus can and can't exist in the city of St. John's.

This week, the city's planning committee adopted in principle a set of standards for drive-thrus after months of research into what is allowed in other municipalities across the country.

It was discovered that the rules vary greatly from city to city.

Coun. Tom Hann asked for the regulations to be drawn up after council approved a controversial Burger King drive-thru on Torbay Road earlier this year.

"I think we're moving in the right direction because before we had absolutely no rules, no regulations and we were (approving drive-thrus) on an ad hoc basis," Hann said following the committee meeting.

He said the city has a number of applications for drive-thrus in the hopper, but they've been on hold while the rules were being developed.

The proposed regulations state drive-thru lanes must be at least five metres from residential zones, churches and schools.

If the drive-thrus abut any of these, there must be a noise barrier and a three-metre vegetation buffer.

Drive-thrus must also have enough space for cars in line - called stacking spaces - which will vary depending on what is being handed through the window.

For example, traffic engineer Robin King told the meeting that he would not recommend the approval of a Tim Hortons drive-thru with less than a 30-space stacking lane, considering past issues with lineups blocking traffic by spilling out onto the road.

The rules will also ensure drive-thrus have scrubbers to reduce the smell from the operations, and approval of any drive-thru will still be at council's discretion.

"Now we have a set of rules so when (a developer) comes in to make an application, (they) know they've got to think of noise reduction ... you've got to have a buffer between the neighbours and you know that if you're (in) a high-traffic area you've got to have up to 30 stacking spaces," said Hann.

"I don't think (the proposed rules are) overly strenuous and I don't think we're asking too much."

At the committee meeting, staff reviewed a number of existing and proposed drive-thrus to see if each would be approved under the new criteria.

The Torbay Road Burger King would not have been approved under the new rules, nor would the Tim Hortons at Newfoundland Drive and Portugal Cove Road because of the traffic it creates. However, anything approved before the new rules come into play will be grandfathered in.

The proposed rules will be presented at a public meeting early in the new year to get feedback from the public and business community before potentially being revised and going before city council for final approval.

Organizations: Burger King, Tim Hortons

Geographic location: St. John's, Torbay Road, Newfoundland Drive Portugal Cove Road

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Recent comments

  • John
    December 18, 2011 - 10:10

    I've seen it sometimes, especially in the morning rush that you can't even get into the parking lot and then you have to drive against the flow because cars are blocking the entrance. You could be comming in but a car comming from the drive-thru is invissible because the building hides it.

  • Randy from the ROCK
    December 18, 2011 - 08:08

    I think they should charge more for products served at the drive thru, and give the people who go inside an environment discount. People will wait inside there idling cars for 15 to 20 minutes, block traffic and then if you blow your horn at them they look at you as if you are the moron.

  • brett
    December 17, 2011 - 09:46

    The thing is that even if the building does not have the parking spaces or stacking spaces as a DRIVER you should not be blocking traffic. Go park somewhere else, this is not the businesses problem, let the police officers go and ticket some people with dangerous driving for blocking the road, etc, etc. That would clear up the problem. Why is the business at fault instead of the idiots that block traffic trying to make a left hand turn into a full tim horton's drive through line?