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1998-08-19
Waterloo, Canada. Wal-Mart Meets Its Waterloo.

On July 30th. we narrated the story of the town of Woolwich, Ontario, where local officials, by one vote, gave Wal-Mart a green light to rezone land for a superstore. But that was not the end of the story. Wal-Mart had not yet met its Waterloo. The neighboring community of Waterloo had to vote to approve the extension of sewer and water service into the "power center". The outcome was decided again by one vote -- but this time that vote brought tears of joy to the eyes of local anti-sprawl activists. The Waterloo Council voted 4-4 on August 17th on the subject of services to the project, and then Mayor Joan McKinnon broke the tie by weighing in against the project. The Waterloo vote comes less than a month after the Woolwich vote in favor. This time around, the Uptown Waterloo Business Improvement Association argued against Wal-Mart, fearing that the superstore's presence would have negative long-term effects on core businesses. The Association last year supported the project. The Waterloo Town Square is now struggling, having lost a major anchor when Kmart closed. Mayor McKinnon also changed her mind since last year, when the Council supported Wal-Mart. The Mayor told the Kitchener Waterloo Record that "major material changes" had taken place over the last year. "We've had what I call an ad hoc eruption of big box developments in this area." Woolwich residents had appealed their council's vote to the Ontario Municipal Board, but Woolwich Mayor Bill Strauss, who reportedly campaigned for election on an anti-big box platform, now says of the Waterloo decision: "I wouldn't assume it's a loss. There are other options." But to most residents in Woolwich, it looks like Wal-Mart finally met its much-deserved Waterloo.

What you can do: For further info, contact Woolwich Council Deanna Zenger, who fought the project, at dzenger@continuum.org.










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

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