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2004-07-17
Vancouver, B.C. City Council Votes for Cap on Store Size

Another community has given developers fair warning that size matters! Here's a frontline account from sprawl-busters in Canada about a recent victory in British Columbia: "The Kitsilano-Arbutus Neighbourhoods in Vancouver, BC, Canada, are older residential areas of the City (500,000 approx City pop.) which include single family dwellings, duplexes, triplexes, and apartment blocks. There have been two main shopping streets with modest scale stores there for years (two 30,000 sf grocery stores since WW2). In 2003, Home Depot enquired to City Planning to build a 92,000 square foot "boutique" store, plus a 25,000 sf grocery and 5,000 other retail, plus 180 dwelling units in the heart of these neighbourhoods. Area residents went crazy, organizing a petition with more than 5000 signatures opposed to big box, plus many letters, emails, etc to City Council. Local retailers organized and supported the residents in opposing this proposal. Eventually, Home Depot dropped the proposal to 72,000 sf , but City Planning recommended a maximum of 40,000 sf for any store. At the Council Meetings (lasted 2 nights) to hear from interested parties, over 90 people signed up to address Council, 99% opposed big box development in their neighbourhood. Residents asked for a cap of 10,000 sf on all stores except grocery stores and drugs stores (Vancouver has a tradition of "drug stores" that are mini-department stores but primarily address local area shopping needs) which were to have a maximum of 30,000 sf. After debate, City Council, on a vote of 8 to 1, adopted the 10,000 max, with 30,000 for grocery-drug stores for this residential area and also asked City Planning to undertake a study regarding capping retail store sizes throughout the City. The residents saw this as a major victory in protecting their neighbourhood, the local retailers, area school children,etc. from the impacts of big box development. Past City Councils designated a few industrial areas on major arterial streets in various parts of the City for big box development (Vancouver has several big boxes but NOT in residential areas) and this recent decision sends a clear message to big box retailers that they will not be allowed to put mega-stores into the City's many residential neighbourhoods."


What you can do: The report concluded, "Thanks to you and all the sprawl-busters contributors for providing us with information from the "grass roots" regarding how the little people have stopped the mega corporations from negatively impacting communities." For further background or contacts on this Vancouver victory, email rmcgil@shaw.ca.










 
 
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