McDonald's blinks over bylaw

After a long battle, McDonald's Canada has abandoned its highly contested plans to open a drive-through at its franchise there…"The rallying cry for the neighbourhood was to build a live-in community, not a drive-through community. That's how you build a good city, by building livable, vibrant neighbourhoods and drive-throughs are antithetical to that,"…The decision ends a three-year battle with a local community group that contested the fast-food restaurant's plans.

The Toronto Star
June 17, 2004

McDonald's blinks over bylaw
Drops application for drive-through. St. Clair W. residents claim ‘very big win’.
Catherine Porter

If you're craving a Big Mac and fries around the St. Clair and Christie area, you'll still have to get out of your car to get them.

After a long battle, McDonald's Canada has abandoned its highly contested plans to open a drive-through at its franchise there.

The company withdrew its court application against the city over its bylaw banning drive-throughs near residential areas on Tuesday.

"We do not intend to proceed with the existing legal action related to this situation," said Ron Christianson, corporate communications manager for McDonald's Restaurants of Canada. "It was a business decision."

City councillor Joe Mihevc called it a victory for all of Toronto.

"The rallying cry for the neighbourhood was to build a live-in community, not a drive-through community. That's how you build a good city, by building livable, vibrant neighbourhoods and drive-throughs are antithetical to that," said Mihevc (Ward 21, St. Paul's West).

The decision ends a three-year battle with a local community group that contested the fast-food restaurant's plans.

"This started as a little battle in one neighbourhood and it turned into a huge bylaw, which protects every neighbourhood," said Susan Spiegel, who, now president of the Humewood Neighbourhood Ratepayers Inc., began mobilizing her neighbours against the plans when she first heard about them in November, 2001. "It's a very big win. It goes with the Jane Jacobs' idea that neighbours are the stewards of a city. If we're not watching out for our neighbourhood, nobody else is."

Soon after the franchise applied to the city to put a drive-through in its location at 710 St. Clair Ave. W., the city passed an interim control bylaw to prohibit them from doing so on that stretch of St. Clair while a study was done. Then, in October, 2002, Toronto's city council passed an overarching ban on drive-throughs within 30 metres of residential areas in the city.

McDonald's, together with the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel and Motel Association, the Canadian Bankers Association and others, took the matter to the Ontario Municipal Board, which sided with residents last January.

"Nobody wants them in their back yard. Nobody," said Spiegel. "We're hoping this is a sign to the city and big corporations to consult with citizens of an area. The citizens of the city need to be taken seriously."


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