Walmart Canada has run into aggressive opposition right in the town that serves as its headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario. The following site fight report was sent to Sprawl-Busters by activists who are battling a Walmart developer in their community:
Several south Mississauga ratepayers’ groups say they'll be out in force on Wednesday night (February 1st) at an open house regarding a controversial development planned for Lakeview.
The plan by Trinity Developments, which owns 14.5 acres of land at the northeast corner of Lakeshore Rd. E. and Enola Ave., is to open either a Walmart or a Target as part of a phased, mixed-use development. Trinity has yet to file a formal application with the City of Mississauga regarding the development.
Trinity will host the open house at 501 Lakeshore Rd. E., Unit A-10, from 6-9 p.m.
Several community groups, among them the Lakeview Ratepayers' Association (LRA), Town of Port Credit Association (TOPCA) and Citizens for a Livable Lakeshore (CALL)—newly-launched to fight the development—are crying foul over the timing of the meeting. LRA president Scott Kletke said they were given only a week’s notice, and he’s not expecting much to come out of the event.
“They are going to show us pretty pictures of parents holding kids’ hands and shopping in familial bliss. It will look compelling, even attractive, but remember that the difference between our vision and theirs is that the big-box mega-store will kill our retail community and shatter the dream of real Main Street mom-and-pop community-level retail,” he said.
TOPCA and the Mississauga Residents’ Associations Network (MIRANET) spokesperson Dorothy Tomiuk said she found it “curious” the open house was called for the same night as MIRANET’s long-scheduled and publicized annual general meeting. Ratepayers’ representatives at MIRANET, she said, will now be forced to make alternate arrangements. Still, Tomiuk, who’s doing an e-mail blast to help get the word out, is confident ratepayers will be well represented. “We’ll find a way to make sure some executives will be there to make our concerns known,” she said.
The open house will consist of a 15-minute presentation by Trinity staff and experts will be available for one-on-one discussion. It’s unclear whether there will be an open question-and-answer session.
CALL, whose mandate “is to give voice to the citizens of Lakeview and Port Credit who feel that a large-format retail store does not fit the community’s long-standing plan for revitalization”—as its first public action—is organizing a two-kilometre protest march. It starts at 5:45 p.m. and proceeds from the Port Credit Lighthouse (105 Lakeshore Rd. W.) to the open house location.
“This project ignores the ground-breaking and award-winning Lakeview Legacy Project and tries to bypass years of citizen participation and good City planning,” said CALL spokesperson Jen McAneney. Despite vociferous community opposition, Trinity says it's committed to an improved Lakeview.
“We are proposing to redevelop an underutilized site, which currently provides little economic activity, in an entirely asphalt setting, into a site that supports and invests in the region’s continued renaissance,” Trinity said in a statement last week announcing the open house.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
These kinds of “open house” events by the developer gives opponents a chance to turn the event into their open house, by flooding the event with people against the plan, each one wearing a bright sticker on their lapel, “Sink the Lakeview Big Box.”
According to the developer, Trinity's portfolio currently exceeds 14,000,000 square feet in size. An additional 8,700,000 square feet has been developed and sold by the company. Trinity currently has fifteen large format and four community shopping centers under various stages of planning, development and construction. In addition, the company is developing four urban mixed-use centers totaling over 1.2 million square feet.
Trinity claims that this massive development will create 600 full and part time jobs, and $3.25 million in taxes. These numbers are gross figures, and do not net out the jobs and taxes that will be lost at smaller retailers in the trade area. This project includes at least 7 retail buildings, the largest being 97,828 square feet. It also includes 290 residential units in a 20 story high rise, and enough parking for just over 1,000 cars.
Readers who want to help the residents of Mississauga are urged to email Mississauga's Mayor, Hazel McCallion, at email@example.com with the following message:
“Dear Mayor McCallion,
Good land use planning begins with neighborhood buy-in. Your massive mixed use project in Mississauga has drawn considerable fire from the people who already live there—some direct residential abutters.
This project is much too intense for the surrounding area, and is incompatible with its neighbors. Instead of pursuing a win/lose scenario, it’s time to sit down with neighbors and ask them what they really want for a neighbor, and what they mean by a ‘renaissance’ for the area."
To contact the citizen’s group CALL, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.