Monday, February 5, 2024

McDonald’s Food and Driving Thru Is a Matter of Choice

I confess I eat out at McDonald’s. I like McDonald’s food. We as a family eat out at McDonald’s. The most visited by us is the one visible from Yonge Street in Aurora. We hang out on the second floor. I like to watch Yonge Street through the window. The view of the Cenotaph gently dressed with the surrounding tall trees is intriguing. I also find the string of idling cars passing down below intriguing. It is not what people order in the drive thru that intrigues me. Is the quality of air around me the same as that down below?  By my calculations idling times can come close to five minutes per vehicle. The view of floating non-McDonald’s garbage pressed against the chain-link fence, not fond of that at all. I am keen to talk to the landlord. Our days are numbered here and I shall explain.

“I may not have a choice as to my neightbour or what is built beside my yard, but I do have a choice as to what I eat and where I eat.”

But McDonald’s isn’t that good for you?” many people told me. “But you didn’t ask me what I eat at McDonald’s?” I often reply. I am hooked on McDonald’s Chicken & Bacon Signature McWrap®; “warm and tender grilled 100% white meat chicken breast topped with a strip of hickory-smoked bacon, shredded iceberg lettuce, juicy tomato, Jalapeno Monterey Jack cheese, and a creamy mayonnaise-style sauce all wrapped up in a steamed, soft whole wheat flour tortilla.” I often drink water with my meals and I rarely order fries. I think that’s healthy enough. Yes, I drink their coffee, I kind of like it better than other brands. Breakfast is like anywhere else. I think I made my point. I choose what I eat. I can choose what I eat at McDonald’s, the same way I choose at the grocery store or other restaurants.

The argument against McDonald’s with regards to healthy eating and obesity is then out the window. What we eat is all about choices. We set the example. Children follow. But darn there are days I rather not cook. Those are the days when I lose the argument to my six year old and give in for another McDonald’s toy. Then there are other days when he listens to my reasoning and walks away to try another day.

There is a 24-hour McDonald’s with a drive thru coming to the area near us; that is on the famous Bayview strip, just south of St. John’s sideroad, on Pedersen Drive. It is plain and clear that I don’t oppose the McDonald’s restaurant in the area. As I said, I choose what I eat. However, the concept of cars idling at the drive thru is a different matter.  If not liking is the same as opposing, then let’s just say it, I’m opposed to the drive thru mainly for the sake of our environment.  Let’s hope it does not happen for 24-hours.

They say it is going to be a double lane drive thru so hopefully that will help cars be in and out faster. Hopefully! That reminds me, every time I drop off my books at the Aurora Public Library, there is always that one car that idles and it seems like forever; especially when I see it in front of the No-Idling Zone sign. Some people just don’t get it.

A handful of residents came to the Public Planning Meeting and to the Town Council meeting to express their concerns and to oppose the McDonald’s site plan. I attended both meetings. The concerns presented by the residents against the McDonald’s plan may have been valid but Town Staff and Council explained that the site plan was in compliance with the current zoning in the area.

The arguments were nothing new – drive thru traffic, increased traffic, light pollution, noise pollution, litter, smells, more seagulls, potential grease spills, pedestrian safety, and potentially lower residential property values. However, because the area was already zoned for such commercial development for close to 20 years, the arguments presented by the residents were a hard sell to Town Council at the Public Planning. I think a better choice of action would have been to try to come up with a win-win scenario and through the Town, ask the McDonald’s developers to mitigate some of the community concerns.

It is most important to note that according to the Public Planning Act Town Council has no power to decide on the tenants or users of a zoned site, they can only decide on the approved uses of the site. I think that is just common sense as well, we can’t discriminate against businesses. Sometimes we may think that Council have all the powers and a magic wand when in fact their hands are tied by the rules.

Therefore, it is really important to make good decisions when zoning lands and to make sure the public is appropriately involved, especially through the process of public planning. But remember this, I may not have a choice as to my neightbour or what is built beside my yard, but I do have a choice as to what I eat and where I eat.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON


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