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2000-07-08
Brampton, Ontario. Wal-Mart Warehouse Defeated

In order to serve its rapacious growth, Wal-Mart has planned to build 11 new distribution centers, those enormous, 1 million square foot brain centers that supply Wal-Mart stores regionally. The residents of Brampton, Ontario won't be one of the sites for a distribution center, following a rejection this week by the Ontario Municipal Board. "We are over the moon," one resident told the Brampton Guardian. "We have spent countless hours on this in order to ensure that Churchville, that has a historic community designation, had a buffer zone." The streets throughout the Churchville and Huttonville neighborhoods have been plastered with "Say No to Wal-Mart Depot" signs. Neighbors complained that a trucking warehouse was incompatible with their neighborhood. The developer appealed the ruling of the Brampton City Council last winter, when a rezoning vote was turned down by an 8-8 tie vote. The land is currently zoned for "prestige industrial development", and not a trucking facility. The OMB agreed with local residents that the distribution center was "not in the long term public interest" and would have the impact of "altering the planned pattern of development in the immediate vicinity of the subject lands and the secondary plan." The OMB said land use plans called for a "higher order, more intense activities" than a Wal-Mart warehouse. The OMB also pointed out that the distribution center, a low density use, would undercut the city's efforts to develop the area as an office node, or gateway to Brampton, and that extensive tractor trailer traffic, open areas for storage and parking of trailers were not consistent with a pedestrian oriented, urban environment. The OMB added: "The intent was never to allow for industrial uses like a warehouse distribution center of the sort proposed in this hearing..Brampton currently has a much lower amount of per capita office space than other GTA municipalities." Bob Crouch, a resident who fought the Wal-Mart, told the Guardian that he took off work this past Tuesday to savor the victory: "I spent the afternoon enjoying my backyard, that I now don't have to sell...We aren't a bunch of NIMBY's dammit. The official plan is the official plan." The developer, meanwhile, said the rejection was "obviously, a disappointment", and vowed to look for a new site for the warehouse. "It doesn't look like it will be in Brampton," he said. The company claimed it spent "millions" in pushing for the Brampton location. The Mayor of Brampton praised area residents for the professionalism of their fight against Wal-Mart. They hired lawyers, took aerial photos of another distribution center, hired planners to represent them, made a Power Point presentation at the OMB hearings, and raised $35,000 to wage their campaign.

What you can do: The Mayor of Brampton lamented over the loss of 500 jobs, but area residents described the Wal-Mart project as a "short-term sell-off in the planning process" and said that sticking to the Official Plan will "attract those higher order usages and the whole city will benefit." A sign on one front lawn in Huttonville reads: "Huttonville Wins! No Truck Depot At Miss. Road and Steeles. OMB Rules. Party to Come." Another small town slams dunks Wal-Mart! This case is also a reminder to citizen's groups that developers can threaten to go to court, but they frequently will lose in court as long as the community has used its comprehensive plan and zoning code as the basis for its rejection of a plan. Rezonings are discretionary decisions, not mandates that have to please developers.










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

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