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10 reasons why Walmart is the wrong choice
A Walmart-anchored shopping centre is the wrong choice for this most pivotal intersection (Garden City Road and Alderbridge Way) in our still maturing municipality. The very character of our developing city centre is at stake, along with all hope that Richmond’s proposed central park will be something which Richmondites can look upon with pride or delight.
I am calling on Richmond city council’s planning committee to:
•reject the concept of a Walmart-anchored shopping centre for Alderbridge Way and Garden City Road outright and completely; and
•reject all applications for rezoning this corridor until a complete, binding community plan is in place to safe-guard the future of the Garden City Lands, Richmond’s central park.
Here are my top 10 reasons why a Walmart-anchored shopping centre is the wrong choice for Garden City and Alderbridge Way:
1. The Walmart-anchored centre puts the future of the Garden City Lands at risk. Allowing First Richmond Shopping Centres to go ahead any further with plans to develop this land as a shopping mall puts the cart before the horse for this whole area. A real proposal for the future of the Garden City Lands seems years away still. An awful lot can happen in that time. The provincial government may yet do away with the ALR entirely. A whole new council could be elected. What then?
2. The new worst intersection in Richmond. Look out No. 3 Road and Westminster Highway! Garden City and Alderbridge is looking to steal your title! Regardless of any theoretical back road to the centre, traffic will be bottling up on Garden City and along Alderbridge. These are vital access routes to both Highway 91 and Highway 99 and main arteries connecting Richmond to her neighbouring municipalities. What has Ironwood and Coppersmith done for traffic on Steveston Highway onto Highway 99? The prognosis for Alderbridge Way and Garden City is doubly bleak.
3. It eliminates land that was zoned for housing. This new development funnels prime low-rise housing land away from its intended purpose and goes against Richmond council’s own goal to improve accessibility to affordable housing by making this type of land an even-rarer commodity. Amid a revitalized nature strip—instead of a traffic-clogging, view-destroying Walmart —Richmond could instead be creating housing for low-income families, below and behind the existing tree level: a habitat for humanity.
4. It is not accessible to transit. The Canada Line stops on No. 3 Road at Lansdowne Road. That’s a 20-minute walk from the station for an able-bodied person. Some of the buses that run along Garden City only run once an hour. Do we really think TransLink has the money for more buses for Richmond? Bring your SUV! Everyone else will (see point 2).
5. It’s not environmentally sustainable. Richmond has sustainability plans and aims to be the most environmentally-conscious and livable of cities. Where does driving your vehicle to buy cheap merchandise shipped thousands of kilometres across oceans on fossil fuel fit in? Walmart is the largest beneficiary on earth of unhealthy, disposable consumer culture. They sell junk for the home, junk for the kids to eat, and junk for our landfills.
6. American big box bonanza. Does Richmond need a new Walmart less than a kilometre away from our brand new Target? Lansdowne is the shopping centre with ample free parking, community events, and a Skytrain stop right on its doorstep. Why are we sacrificing so much for something Richmond already has—and really, really close by.
7. Walmart is the worst. Whether they are blocking their ultra-minimum-wage employees from unionizing, illegally dumping hazardous waste, or selling guns across the street from schools in the U.S., Walmart has a bad reputation for a reason. Communities fight it for a reason. Wherever they go they systematically kill local business and leave only the lowest common denominator in their place.
8. There is still plenty of “ugly Richmond” left to go around. The Canada Line has given Richmondites new perspective on our city, literally. For the first time we can see certain parts of Richmond slightly from above. There is still a lot of already despoiled and underutilized Richmond in need of redevelopment.
9. What about Richmond’s other wants? What about better visions? Create Garden City Lands Idea Fair, on June 1, was an impressive and inspiring event. However, it was clear on that community visioning day that the residents of Richmond also want things that are not going to be feasible on the GCL. Some of the things that the people of Richmond want, and need, could be at Garden City and Alderbridge instead of a shopping centre. City resources would be complementary, appropriate, and logical at just such a location —directly across from Richmond’s own destination park.
10. A Walmart-anchored centre sets the tone of our nascent city centre really low. The city used to have the slogan, “Richmond: Better in every way.” Have we changed the way we see ourselves as a city so much since then? Richmond, where’s your self-respect? Vancouver would never put a Walmart across from its Stanley Park, or Burnaby allow such a blight on the doorstep of Central Park. Seriously, Richmond aren’t we better than this?
The decisions we make today will bring about the city of the future. Before allowing this shopping centre to become part of the future of our city, please consider how very far a Walmart-anchored centre is from the kind of city we want to be -- from the ideas and dreams that have been gathered from the community, for our future community. A Walmart centre can only degrade and devalue the Garden City Lands, its natural view scape, and the health and well-being of future Richmond residents.