Wal-Mart has lost a second Canadian battle in just over a week. After years of fighting the giant retailer, residents of Vancouver, British Columbia are celebrating a slam-dunk of Wal-Mart this week. According to one local resident who wrote Sprawl-Busters, “The citizens of Vancouver scored an impressive victory against big box sprawl types of development, and Wal-Mart in particular when our city council listened to its citizens’ concerns and voted 8-3 to oppose Wal-Mart’s attempt to locate a store on Vancouver’s fringes. This was an incredible victory that took 4 years of citizen activism and the election of a progressive civic government in between, which certainly helped when the development application finally came before council. Wal-Mart tried to appear politically correct by offering to build a “green” store, with a special design (standard line they use) just for Vancouver. The store would have had a windmill on the roof and natural light, but the architects could not design away the size of the building and the major traffic tie ups that come with superstores — even “green” ones. When the votes were counted, it wasn’t even close. Mayor Larry Campbell, who voted for the retailer, may now pay the price politically for tying his future to an American economic colonialist. Wal-Mart can take comfort, however, in the fact that size played a greater role than the logo on the building, because Vancouver also rejected a Canadian Tire store on a nearby parcel recently. This proposal was offered by First Pro, the same developer that has Stratford, Ontario tied up in knots. A spokesman for First Pro told the Vancouver Sun he was “flabbergasted and stunned” that council rejected the proposal after the city’s planning staff had supported the plan. But if Wal-Mart had looked around at the hundreds of people against the plan, they would not have been stunned. Councilor Anne Roberts, who lobbied against the plan, told the Sun that south Vancouver “is not a throw-away zone for big-box retail.” Councilor Tim Louis called Wal-Mart “one of the world’s largest corporate criminals,” and said the store’s “green” fa??ade was just a skin-deep change. “A munitions factory with a windmill is still a munitions factory,” Louis said. The Mayor tried to appease residents by saying Vancouver could have made their Wal-Mart into the first unionized store in Canada. He clearly did not read the history of the Jonquiere store in Quebec that Wal-Mart shut down when it unionized.
Just about a week ago, the city of Burlington, Canada rejected a Wal-Mart. Surrey, British Columbia has also, and a growing number of Canadian communities are enacted size caps and other ordinances to keep out big box sprawl. For contacts in this latest Vancouver battle, contact [email protected] To read more about this developer, search Newsflash by “First Pro” or “Canada”.