Kamloops: City Planners corrupt -- Allow Super-Sized Walmart

The city's biggest retailer wants to get bigger.

Walmart Canada has applied to the City of Kamloops to discharge a covenant restricting it to its current, 130,000-square foot size. It wants to add about 19,000 square feet to its Sahali location.

Kamloops council placed the legal restriction a decade ago over fears the corporation would expand to include sale of groceries, something that occurred anyway on the restricted footprint.

Randy Lambright, community development manager for the City of Kamloops, said Monday planners won't oppose the request.

"We've looked from a parking and setback perspective and it's not creating any issues there."

A public hearing at Kamloops council chambers will be set either this month or February.

When the building was rezoned ten years ago, it was done without Walmart revealing itself as the eventual tenant.

The unusual ruse didn’t fool anyone, however:  Walmart was widely suspected as the eventual tenant.

Prodded by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, council voted to restrict the building’s footprint. The union representing workers at three grocers in Kamloops feared the corporation would sell groceries and undermine union jobs here.

Calls and emails to Walmart Canada Monday seeking comment were not returned.

“That’s exactly why we put the covenant on them,” said Coun. Pat Wallace… . They said they didn’t want groceries. (But) groceries are in there now.”

Lambright said the C-5 zoning of the property has always permitted a wide range goods, including groceries.

While the union fought Walmart here a decade ago, a spokesman said it is unlikely to do so this time.

“At this stage our strategic focus has moved on,” said Andy Neufeld, communications director for Local 1518 of United Food and Commercial Workers Union. “The reality is we’re not going to be able to stop this.”

Rather than opposing Walmart’s foray into groceries, Neufeld said the union is focused on organizing Walmart workers.

“If there’s any workers who need a union, it’s Walmart workers,” Neufeld said, calling the corporation “very hostile” to unions.

Several Quebec Walmart stores are unionized, made possible through the province’s labour laws.

Internet site reference: http://www.kamloopsnews.ca/article/20120116/KAMLOOPS0101/120119848/-1/KAMLOOPS/city-planners-wont-oppose-walmart-request-to-add-19000-square-feet


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