A Vancouver Island-based Walmart employee has confirmed plans for a new Walmart Supercentre to be built in the space previously occupied by Sears at Hillside Shopping Centre.
The source, who has requested to remain anonymous, informed Victoria Buzz that they were relayed this information during a staff meeting in late 2019.
The employee clarified that the company plans to focus on renovations on their Langford location, before setting their sights on Hillside Centre.
This will be Victoria’s third Walmart – the first two located in Uptown Shopping Centre and Langford. The vacant space left by Sears upon its closure in 2017 sits at 150,000 square fit – the same size as the Canadian Tire outlet at Hillside mall.
On January 10th, Saanich councillor, Zac De Vries, came out on Twitter to express his grievances towards the project, saying that it is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to land use.
*builds an auto-centric urban form whose conditions are conductive to high-volume big-box retail stores*
Hillside Mall: We will be the site of the regions third Walmart
Everyone: What? Why Walmart? We do not need another one of those?
Land-use shapes our economy. Let’s act.
— Zac de Vries – Saanich Councillor & CRD Director (@zacdevries) January 10, 2020
Councillor De Vries, who studied geography and urban health development at the University of Victoria, followed up his original tweet with another, saying that the plan resulted from “auto-centered land use” and that it would “diverge from [Saanich’s] climate targets.”
He also called big box retailers an “economic depressant” in the long term. De Vries stands by his statement: “to address climate change and build sustainable communities we need better land-use planning.”
Several Saanich and Victoria residents came to his side, citing the need for childcare, mental health, and other public service centres instead of another Walmart.
With Thrifty’s and Canadian Tire as the other anchors, this feels like duplication. I like @QuenchWines suggestion of a variety of essential services. If @CityOfVictoria held the lease, they could seek grant funding to build child care.
— Michelle Kirby (@MichelleKOakBay) January 17, 2020
I’d like to see a multifunctional space be created instead of another Walmart. Lots of small shops and businesses, cafe, restaurant, childrens’ play area, services etc
— Your Place And You (@YourPlaceAndU) January 17, 2020
It would have been an amazing place for a huge daycare downstairs w/mental health/counselling offices upstairs. Retain garden centre for a play area, turn the parking lot on that edge into a fenced grassy area. Build a 3-4 storey building for family housing in the parking lot.
— Rayna (@QuenchWines) January 10, 2020
Others were more critical of his stance, arguing that families in the area need a low-cost superstore like Walmart.
Or perhaps you overestimate your importance. Walmart will succeed in Hillside based on one thing, low prices. After paying rent/mortgage, ICBC, cell phone, kids sports, childcare, etc. Families in Saanich have such little money left shopping at a discount retailer is often needed
— Vernon Lord (@GoVern2018) January 10, 2020
If we didn’t need a Walmart it wouldn’t make money and would close its doors like Sears and Zellers.
You are talking about a small minority and their wants
— Stephen Fish (@FishWalter) January 10, 2020
According to Hillside Centre’s leasing agency, Walmart has an eye on fall 2021 for the opening of the new location.