Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thinking (perhaps not) outside the BIG BOX

In the back of their minds our council hopefuls (mayors have no say as the incumbent has pointed out) probably already know which way they will vote when it comes to the Smart Centres proposal for a big box complex north of the Lougheed Highway in the Albion area.

There are a lot of candidates this time around and the betting is that the majority of them will favour a 'new shopping experience' in the Albion. And in all likelihood the majority of citizens in Maple Ridge will agree that, yes indeed, Maple Ridge is in dire need of a large shopping complex slap bang in the middle of Albion. Why not? Just look at the place; nothing but grass and bog and a handful of scruffy buildings and crumbling greenhouses.

In the past - recent past actually - Maple Ridge council and staff fought bravely [bless them] to ward off the advances of that evil empire, Smart Centres, the Darth Vader of retail. Famously Glen Bury of First Pro, as Smart Centres then called itself, asked council in chambers whether Maple Ridge was 'open for business?' Back came the resounding answer 'no'. One felt that the reaction was not so much aimed at First Pro but rather at poor Glen himself; that Hannnibal appoach, while popular among developers, does not go down well in Maple Ridge. 

Pitt Meadows, under the leadership of its own brand of despot, seemed and seems far more in tune with the Smart Centres modus developi. This was demonstrated when it became evident that land was being prepared on the north side of Lougheed for the inevitable big box build in Pitt Meadows - a matter of pride to many folk in Pitt Meadows.

The current retail climate, one would think, will send our local shoppers back to the Loonie Stores and the other little bucking shops that haphazardly litter these two communities. The financial landscape from Wall Street to Walmart has changed drastically, setting back most capital expenditure plans for the foreseeable and, some say, unforeseeable future. Plans that will doubtless include the Albion, which will once more is set to escape the evil empire, perhaps for decades, as this recession [let's be honest and call it a DEPRESSION] has all the makings of a doozy.

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