City council has pressed pause on plans to construct a new commercial building in the Walmart complex that would house a Sport Chek store and a Dollar Tree store.
On Monday, March 4, council postponed its approval of a development permit for Smart Centres because of concerns about traffic congestion.
According to the permit application, the new building would be located opposite Walmart, where the recycling bins used to be placed, between La Vie en Rose and EB Games.
The building would be 22,100 square feet in size. Sport Chek would take up 12,100 square feet and The Dollar Tree would take up 10,000 square feet.
Sport Chek is Canada’s largest retailer of sporting goods, apparel and footwear. The Dollar Tree is a value store with 4,300 locations in the U.S. and around 100 in Canada.
The development permit also includes the addition of about 200 parking spaces – 90 along Walmart’s northern wall, and 110 in front of Booster Juice and Home Hardware.
A new sidewalk would be built from McPhee Road through the property to the existing sidewalk on Willowbrook Drive.
However, the permit doesn’t address traffic congestion at the Theatre Road and Tim Horton’s entrances to the complex, and City of Cranbrook staff and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure technicians have expressed concern that the expanded development would trigger changes to those intersections.
City engineer Jamie Hodge told council that when the Smart Centres complex was approved in the early 2000s, the agreement was that the developer would make traffic enhancements when the complex grew to a certain size.
“They’ve managed to avoid doing that by bringing in small piecemeal developments that are just under the size that would trigger those requirements and there’s nothing the city can do about it,” said Hodge.
“The traffic impacts are going to occur – there is no question – and it will place pressure on the city to make traffic improvements.
“My opinion is that Smart Centres has not been civically responsible, rather they are just driven by the bottom line,” said Hodge.
Council shared the concerns of staff, although Councillor Bob Whetham pointed out that the traffic concerns lie outside the requirements for council to approve the development permit, and Councillor Denise Pallesen said she would hate for council to turn down two viable businesses in today’s tough economy.
Council voted five to two in favour of postponing its decision until staff could discuss traffic concerns further with Smart Centres. Councillors Pallesen and Diana J. Scott were opposed to the postponement.
“Everybody around the table is excited about the possibility of two new businesses opening here, but we think further discussion is required about a few of the issues,” said Mayor Wayne Stetski.