Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Come on, Alberta. Get on board.

The dicsussion on banning drive-throughs here in Ottawa stemmed from a similar discussion in Edmonton, and a few in B.C. the main reason for wanting to do so is simple. Drive-throughs contribute to climate change. There are days where I can't even get into the Tim Horton's parking lot on Hazeldean to park and walk inside to get coffee. The main reason is that the drive-through line is so long, it is out into the street, and you have to wait in that line until you can get to the parking lot and go inside. And the main reason that people go through the drive-through is that it truly is much faster. Every time I go in, I am waiting in line, inside, at the counter, and by the time I finally get my two coffees, the car that was at the end of the line when I parked is long gone. This is because Tim Hortons, like most other drive-through restaurants, caters primarily to the crowd that come to that window, and not to those who wait inside. Which is both good and bad. It means people are not idling their cars as long, but it also means that far more people are idling their cars.

My dad just proposed a novel solution to the problem - octagonal Tim's, where there are eight drive-through windows and there are virtually no wait times at all. No parking lot whatsoever, just a pile of drive-through windows. Less idling that way! Which is great, but when I think about the parking lots we have at Hazeldean and Castlefrank, or the one at Centrum, it strikes me that there is no one in Ottawa capable of planning and building a shop such as this without causing massive traffic jams and accidents. Maybe a hexagon would work best. Seriously, however, what amazes me is that this idea is being considered in Edmonton. That means there are people in Edmonton who are concerned about global warming. And Edmonton is in Alberta. Which means there are people in Alberta who are concerned about global warming. None of those people, however, is in the provincial government, it would seem.

The global warming deniers have a hard time standing on facts. So the newest thing that I hear a lot is "what difference does it make if Canada signs on to Kyoto - if we don't do something about China, the world is screwed anyway. So let's just not try." Right. Now, there is a similar argument circulating in Canada, which goes something like this: Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Manitoba are all backing the proposed carbon-trading program. But why bother when, without Alberta's co-operation, the whole point is moot? Yes, Alberta is our biggest-polluting province. And of course they do not want to sign up for carbon-trading or cutting emissions, because money is more important than life. And the federal government is not about to do anything about it, because they too would rather have Canadians fat and happy with 55" TVs for ten years than have Canadians slightly less fat and happy with 52" TVs for the next thousand years. But rather than throwing in the towel, sigining up on our own and saying "well, we did what we could", why are the other provinces not putting more pressure on Alberta? Like why aren't the other countries of the world putting more pressure on China?

Fifty years from now, do we, the residents of Ontario, really want to say to our grandkids "well, we did what we could. We instituted a carbon tax, and banned drive-throughs, and created an idling by-law. But Alberta screwed us, and that's why polar bears are extinct and you live in a cave." Why wouldn't we exert as much pressure as is humanly possible on the one province that can make a global difference, and force them into working toward the greater good? For that matter, why don't we do the same with Stephen Harper? Alberta will never comply with anything environmental so long as the current government keeps it's own head in the sand. It seems to start from the top down, so let's put the pressure on from the top down. It's a lot easier to get your drive-through donuts when the top's down. And we don't want to wait until you can drive with the top down in Ottawa in January. I am done with the top down analogies. I'm starting to make myself cringe.

1 comment:

  1. You were making sense until the last couple of sentences of that final paragraph...

    You know my solution to the long line ups at Timmy's? I drive next door, to the Sunoco. I park my car, turn it off and go inside. There, Vinnie (name changed to protect the guilty) takes my travel mug, rinses it if it needs it, and fills it up from a fresh pot. He doesn't ask me what I want in it anymore; he already knows. We talk for a few minutes...work, family, weather...then I look at the clock over the wall of cigarettes (I don't smoke, myself, mind you) and I say, "hey, I gotta go. See you tomorrow, Vinnie. Thanks for the coffee."
    And that's how I beat the line ups at Tim Horton's.

    [By the way...those cigarettes...there are 1500 packs there at any given time. One small store in a gas station like that moves those 1500 packs of cigarettes in 10 days or less...]

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