Vancouver is getting a Wal-Mart in a few months. But it isn’t the store we deserve. We could have done better, much better.
Back in 2005/06 Wal-Mart applied to construct a store in Vancouver (along South West Marine drive for those who know the city). The City of Vancouver put all sorts of hurdles in Wal-Mart’s way. In particular it told Wal-Mart that its proposed store was not sufficiently environmentally sensitive and laid out guidelines stricter than any other proposed store would have to adhere to (such as the Canadian Tire being proposed next door).
We can debate whether it is fair to force Wal-Mart to live up to a unique set of guidelines. But what is unconscionable is what the city did next. Wal-Mart hired Peter Busby, a local architect who is a world leader on sustainable development, who designed a store that consumed 1/3 the energy of a normal store with windmills generating power and underground wells heating and cooling the building. What did City Council do with the proposal? It said no. It rejected Wal-Mart’s application even though it proposed to build one of the world’s most environmentally sensitive store’s and despite the fact that city planners and staffers recommended endorsing the plan.
Fast forward to today.
Wal-Mart recently bought property on the east side of the city (at 3585 Grandview Highway) that is an old vacated Cosco and is now renovating the site. I’ve heard of no plans for a super energy efficient building, nor for an electricity generating windmill or rainwater catchment system. It’ll just be a normal, run of the mill, Wal-Mart.
What an opportunity lost for Vancouver, and for Wal-Mart.