City Councilors in Burlington, Ontario have handed Wal-Mart another defeat. The Councilors rejected the recommendation of their staff this week, and voted against the giant retailer. The city’s community development committee voted to take no stand on the controversial building until after the city’s official plan review team had looked at alternative uses for the site. Wal-Mart Canada immediately said it was considering an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board. Local residents credited the anti Wal-Mart vote to strong community opposition. Burlington Mayor Rob MacIsaac told the media that this case required more than just a decision at the planning level, prompting Councilors to make the final vote. The project required a zoning amendment, so the Council was within its legal rights to deny the project.
I received a call from the Hamilton Spectator newspaper about this case. The reporter indicated that many local people were surprised by the Burlington vote, because most local residents have no background on Wal-Mart’s negative reputation in the United States. To their credit, Burlington officials listened carefully to what local residents wanted. In this case, they demanded a broader look at the uses for this important parcel in the city, and alternatives to just more retail glut.