This 'gift' of money to Stratford's downtown from this immoral corporation is a cynical move calculated to lull citizens into forgiving their previous bullying tactics towards our city. It is a bribe in reality. This bribe money is the amount that walmart should have paid to the city to cover the legal fees that the city was forced to pay to defend our municipal rights and Official Plan in a nasty and lengthy OMB hearing. I was stunned by the decision made by OMB chairman Colin Heffernan requiring Stratford to cover the legal fees when the city was forced to this fight by walmart. I lost all respect as this was not a decision that supported the autonomous development of Stratford.
This walmart bribe is calculated to insure citizens shop in their store and is still a grave danger to the health of our downtown. We need a real downtown, a functioning downtown with businesses that citizens need in their daily lives and that people in the area can walk or bike to do their errands.
The big box being built in the east end will create more sprawl in an area of the city already marred by too much car based commercial. The urban planners who advised the city on these matters created OPA10 in the official plan to promote balanced growth between the east and west giving our downtown the central location and a better chance to keep healthy and strong. Walmart has thumbed their nose at this balanced municipal plan and bulldozed their way into the east. If walmart can spend so much on this bribe - they must be counting on sucking a whole lot of money out of Stratford. This money does not support the local economy but is channeled right to the vast coffers of this corporation.
One positive outcome of the legal struggle is the reduction in size of this big box from 135,000 to 90,000 sq. ft.
I worry so much about our downtown, I have seen the number and types of business change over the years. An attractive, flexible people place behind city hall is certainly a much anticipated improvement to our heart, our core. However, we must be vigilant. We do not need a disneyland type theme park, we need a real downtown. We must support the downtown businesses. So called cheap prices have a very expensive hidden cost. Buy Local / Buy Loyal / Buy Little Box.