Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion was serious when she urged people to avoid drive-thrus at a city council meeting Wednesday, noting the harmful emissions that are spewed by idling cars.

But she later said was ‘joking’ about having the city’s three-minute ban on idling enforced while drivers sit waiting for their double doubles and Big Macs.

“I was really joking,” she said. “There’s no way that we can monitor the idling at drive-thrus. We don’t have the staff to do it.”

Under existing bylaws, idlers could face a $150 fine, but bylaw officers have typically been issuing warnings rather than fines.

It’s not just the pollution that irritates McCallion, it’s also the traffic jams caused by long lines at rush hour, she told city council.

McCallion would prefer an outright ban on drive-thrus, but she admits that would be a tough sell to council.

Her comments were spawned from a staff report about how Mississauga is coping with the effects of climate change.

City of Toronto bylaws cap idling at one minute and expects employees to follow a “10-second rule” for idling.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources, idling for longer than 10 seconds wastes more gas and produces more carbon emissions than restarting the engine.

Click here for the the Ministry of Natural Resources website on idling, including interactive idling impact calculators.

Have you ever been ticketed in a drive-thru line?