An artists rendering of the proposed Chevron gas bar and Triple O’s drive-thru. (Contributed)

An artists rendering of the proposed Chevron gas bar and Triple O’s drive-thru. (Contributed)

Kelowna council green lights new drive-thru despite staff’s climate concerns

Council said the area is largely car-centric and the environmental impact of non-approval would be negligible

Kelowna council gave the green light to a new Triple O’s and Chevron gas bar proposed along Highway 97 and Sexsmith Road during a May 12 public hearing.

Albeit, with a tinge of reluctance, according to the mayor.

City staff recommended non-support on the application in part due to the city’s climate action plan and the GHG emissions caused by idling in drive-thru lanes, but council decided against that recommendation.

The new burger joint was also proposed on industrial land, prompting the need for council to grant a variance to allow for the restaurant and drive-thru at the gas bar.

“While drive-thrus represent a convenient way for many to pick up a meal, it cannot be said that they are a necessity,” read the report by city planner Aaron Thibeault. “Rather, it is a choice, and a choice that comes with a cost.”

While councillors largely agreed that drive-thrus do have an environmental impact, they said the area is largely car-centric and the impact of not approving it would be negligible.

“Do I think we are going to save the planet with this particular application? No,” said Mayor Colin Basran. “Is it another cut? Potentially.”

Coun. Luke Stack said the solution should be to encourage people to reduce their own emissions and not to “outlaw drive-thrus.”

“I go through one every day literally, but I drive an electric vehicle, so I don’t have any emissions,” said Stack.

Much of the concern from residents sent to council — and posted on social media — was surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and how important drive-thrus have become in terms of getting food.

“We don’t build cities based on pandemics,” said Coun. Ryan Donn, the lone councillor against the proposal in the 8-1 vote.

“At some point, we are going to have to say no if we genuinely want to move the dial lower to reduce people using cars.”

The proposal also shows plans for landscaping to minimize the visual impact of the drive-thru — which the applicant described as quite extravagant compared to proposals it has made in other cities — and two electric vehicle charging stations.

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