By David F. Rooney
By now many people — perhaps even most — will have heard that something about Canadian Tire making a bid to come to town last week. Beyond that most probably know very little.
Here are many — if not all — of the facts regarding what some think could have been an economic blessing…
Over the course of the last year Canadian Tire has made two proposals to build a store in Revelstoke, both of those proposals centered on Steve Platt’s property by the Subway Restaurant on the Trans-Canada Highway junction with Highway 23 North. The latest proposal was for a 70,000-square-foot development. 35,000 square feet was for a Canadian Tire outlet. That’s well within the existing 50,000-square-foot limit on retail space in town. The rest of that space would be for a new supermarket and a pharmacy.
According to Royal LePage owner Don Teuton, Canadian Tire had, both times, asked for confidential, in camera discussions with City Council. There is nothing unusual about that, he said. However, the fact that the meetings were secret means that Mayor McKee and all members of Council cannot divulge anything that was said during those in camera sessions.
The previous Council was, property owner Steve Platt told The Current, receptive but of course they were voted out in November. The chain then asked this new, self-described pro-business Council for an opportunity to discuss the proposed project in confidence.
This was confirmed by Mayor Mark McKee who, during his regular Friday Mayor’s Report on EZ Rock, said “lots of times Council gets asked opinions on things… like big box stores. They ask Council what its opinion is in confidence.”
He appeared to suggest that Canadian Tire also wanted to know if it could have the property in question rezoned from comprehensive development to highway commercial.
Platt, who has seen various development concepts for the four TCH-side lots he owns shot down, hoped Council would recognize the value of a multi-million-dollar project — which had been developed over six months — that would employ local people and local companies.
“They were told Council would support the concept but not on the highway,” he said.
The alternative — building a Canadian Tire store, a supermarket and a pharmacy — elsewhere in town would presumably have been acceptable to Council but who has a 70,000-square-foot lot kicking around?
“I think it’s very important to note that all that was being asked for was this: Would Council be willing to support this concept?” Platt said in a telephone interview on Sunday evening. “Unfortunately… they stopped it moving forward.”
Platt, who returned to his native Texas a few years ago to deal with some health concerns and to be closer to new grandchildren, said he believes the project would be “good for the community.”
Not only would it create new jobs during the construction and operational phases but it could provide local residents with shopping opportunities that otherwise send them out of town to Salmon Arm, Vernon and Kelowna. Platt noted that there undoubtedly are people here who dislike change but the community’s economic future needs to be discussed.
That Council shot down the project during a secret meeting before there had been any public discussion of its merits bothers him. “I really do think this is a community decision,” he said. “Revelstoke is a small, isolated place. Deals like this don’t come along every day.”