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2005-09-23
Edmonton, Canada. Citizens Stop Wal-Mart—Twice.

Two strikes and you're out in Edmonton, Canada. Sprawl-Busters has heard from Wal-Mart opponents in Edmonton, that Wal-Mart has been stymied twice by angry citizens. According to a report from the front lines, Wal-Mart has been leaving its old Woolco stores that it acquired roughly a decade ago to get into Canada, and applying for much larger, free-standing superstores, imitating its development evolution in America. But the superstore proposals in Edmonton have run into super trouble. In Edmonton, a developer withdrew his rezoning application to build a Wal-Mart supercenter in the North part of the city, and Wal-Mart dropped its plans to develop an old Brewers Distributors warehouse site. "These decisions were both as a result of community displeasure and activism," our correspondent writes. This account is confirmed by the Edmonton Examiner newspaper, which credits the two Wal-Mart setbacks to "opposition from residents and city planners." The developer, First Pro Shopping Centers, pulled out its rezoning proposal this past week, two weeks before it was slated to come before the city council. "We determined that the site was not necessarily our best option," a spokesperson for Wal-Mart said. "We are sitting back for a minute and we're going to reassess." So the retailer now has to hunt for a new site. Residents have been battling the plan since the end of 2003, and last June, the Edmonton city Planning Department came out against the proposal also. Planning staff explained that this kind of plan should be built in planned regional shopping center, or major commercial corridors, where there is a high level of transit service and convenient pedestrian access. "It's just a poor location," the planning report said. "They should find a site that's commercially zoned and appropriate for that kind of (development)." The city said other big boxes would follow Wal-Mart, and "the cumulative impact would then be much more considerable on the roads and the utilities and so on." The Examiner estimated that 85% of the people who showed up to the hearings were against the plan. The developer at a second Wal-Mart site withdrew last June, facing strong opposition from the the Eaux Claires neighbourhood.


What you can do: One opponent of the Wal-Mart project said their opposition was not about Wal-Mart, but about putting any big box in an inappropriately zoned area. The land Wal-Mart wanted was near several residential neighborhoods, and was too intense a use for the area. City planners and residents combined to throw a one-two punch at Wal-Mart. None of this would have happened if Wal-Mart and its developers had looked at the zoning map before offering their project, and sat down with neighbors to listen to what they wanted. Instead, Wal-Mart Canada has two more embarrassing loses to explain to their stockholders.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

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