One vote on the Woolwich Township Council made all the difference in one of the community’s most devisive battles in recent history. Early in the morning of July 22nd, the Council voted 5-3 to allow the construction of a big box complex across from the St. Jacob’s farmers market at the corner of King Street North and Highway 86. As one newspaper said: “St. Jacobs country will begin being transformed into Wal-Mart country.” Not if the Citizens Concerned for the Quality of Life in Woolwich Township has anything to say about it. The citizen’s group has vowed to take the fight into neighboring Waterloo, which must vote to provide the project with water and sewage. Without the signature of the city of Waterloo, the agreement that Woolwich officials have signed with Wal-Mart’s developer is worthless. The Woolwich council has voted to permit a zoning change and an amendment to the official plan — all tailor made for Wal-Mart. More than 1,400 written objections to the Wal-Mart were filed by the Citizens, compared to only 100 people who said they wanted a Wal-Mart. Citizen’s spokesman Al Deep said he was startled that elected officials could ignore the wishes of so many voters who did not want a sprawl-mart in their town. “This whole exercise has made a mockery of democracy,” said Deep. Deep reminded Mayor Bill Strauss that the latter had campaigned for election that he opposed big box stores and the possible impact they might have on local businesses. So what made the Mayor reverse his stance? Wal-Mart told local officials that their store would bring 245 jobs and $100,000 a year in taxes. This is the Canadian version of “Wal-Math”, where no lost jobs or tax revenues are ever quantified. So the battle now moves to the neighboring town that controls the water and sewer lines to the project. The Concerned Citizens are hoping that strong community opposition to the power center will mean that Wal-Mart will soon meet its Waterloo.
For further information about how you can help Wal-Mart meet its Waterloo, contact Deanna Zenger at:[email protected]