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Ball in Walmart's court for Richmond development

A lack of road access to the site of a proposed Walmart in the West Cambie area has prompted another review. -
A lack of road access to the site of a proposed Walmart in the West Cambie area has prompted another review.
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City hall's planning and development department is beginning the new year with a fat file on its desk that won't go away.

Plans for a Walmart-anchored shopping mall in West Cambie are back in planners' hands, after city council's planning committee late last month ordered staff to do more work on the file.

Proponents first pitched their plans 10 years ago, spawning dramatic change in a neighbourhood largely untouched by redevelopment.

Councillors recently considered a new plan for the open-air mall, which would boast up to 50 stores and a 161,188-square-foot Walmart. But at issue is access to the site—located at the northeast corner of Alderbridge Way and Garden City Road.

Planners say an east-west road is needed to service the mall—one connecting Alexandra Road in the east to Leslie Road in the west. But SmartCentres, the mall's proponent, hasn't yet acquired the five properties needed to build it.

One of those property owners, however, has since told councillors that he has yet to see a "proper legal offer" from SmartCentres to buy his land.

Councillors also heard opposition to a temporary solution floated by staff—to collect cash from area developers to fund the road's future construction.

Another proposed access road for the mall is also proving to be a sticking point for civic politicians. In that case, a road will cost the city 0.8 hectares of parkland in exchange for a rooftop deck in the mall's parking lot that's less than half the size.

Coun. Bill McNulty, chair of council's planning committee, said the "ball is totally in Walmart's court."

"Access in and access out are extremely important, and they are the responsibility of the developer. They're not the responsibility of the city or anybody else."

No timeline has been set for the latest review

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