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2000-02-18
Surrey, B.C. Wal-Mart's Showdown in Surrey

On Monday, February 21, 2000, the citizens of Surrey, British Columbia have their chance to finally say how they feel about a 101,840 s.f. Wal-Mart store in their community. The Wal-Mart Canada proposal has been kicking around for more than eight months (see newsflash index 7/3/99), and has created an inter-city clash over strip development on the border of Surrey and Delta. A city councilor in Delta says he is worried about the "strip mall" mentality of the Surrey Council. But not all Councilors in Surrey are pleased with the Wal-Mart plan. Councilor Bob Bose called the store a "gross underuse" of the site, and said the plans do not speak in any way to the needs of the community. He disparaged the developer's attempts to placate neighbors by moving the loading docks around and erecting a 25 ft. high earth berm. Residents figure this wall of earth simply proves that Wal-Mart has something to hide. The store, which is larger than two football fields, comes with an asphalt parking lot for 583 cars, and 7,000 car trips per day. The developer claims that people in Surrey are down on his project just because it's a Wal-Mart. "I know there are some people in this world, as amazing as it may seem, that are not Wal-Mart shoppers, and never will be Wal-Mart shoppers." Local residents in fact have gathered the names of 1,600 area residents who don't want to be Wal-Mart shoppers in Surrey. To counter that, the developer, Carter Property Consultants, told local officials that they had conducted a "telephone survey" which showed that 64% of area residents approve of the project. Meanwhile, Councilor Bose continues to point out the obvious: "I don't think you can resolve a design problem by putting trelises on the side of a building," he told reporters. "It's not an honest kind of piece of architecture." The megastore is opposed by the Strawberry Hill Neighborhood Association, and the Surrey Coalition for a Healthy Community. Last week, opponents held a protest against Wal-Mart at the proposed location on Scott Road. Must have been some of those "never will be" Wal-Mart shoppers.

What you can do: Isn't it remarkable how "telephone surveys" conducted by developers or Wal-Mart always come out with the same results? You start to wonder, do they just publish the same survey over and over again? Usually these surveys are "push" surveys that are worded to make opposing Wal-Mart sound like stealing cookies from the Girl Scouts. As far as Wal-Mart shoppers go, if 100 million Americans shop there every week, that means 178 million of us don't. It appears there are millions of "never will be" megastore shoppers whose sense of community is larger than the dimensions of their own shopping cart.










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

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