By Urban Anomie
CALGARY — City Council approved a plan on Friday to demolish 87 homes in the northwest community of Sunnyside to make way for a proposed 210,000 square-foot Costco.
Many residents are upset by the move, and say the community will be devastated.
“People move to communities like Sunnyside to get away from the suburban sprawl fueled by giants like Costco and Wal-Mart,” says Darryl Humphreys, whose home will be spared.
“My charming lesbian neighbours, my latte-sipping elitist friends, the homeless people who wander the alleys looking for a place to take a piss . . . many of them are being forced out to make room for a bulk-discount shopping centre.”
But Costco says the company is going to great lengths to blend into the vibrant community, by taking measures such as including 20 bicycle stalls—which is more than the entire company has in place in its existing 620-plus locations worldwide—and placing a couple of benches near the entrance.
“We want to be a part of the community, create a partnership with Sunnybrook residents,” says Tricia Ross, Vice President of Sprawl and Small Business Squashing at Costco. “Remaining Sunnydale residents will hardly know we’re there.”
The warehouse chain will plant six trees in the planned 400-stall parking lot to help mitigate the company’s environmental footprint, and says the store will offer a wide selection of ‘green’ items including 120-packs of toilet paper made with 20% recycled paper, and a unique selection of clothes not made in factories operated by Chinese slave children.
Small businesses along 10th St. and Kensington are upset over the announcement, and while some say they will compete against the corporate giant, others are less optimistic.
“We’re fucked,” says Jessie Evans, owner of Artsy-Fart Clothiers. “There’s simply no way we can compete with these guys.”
But Wilson Wagner, owner of Bongs ‘R Us, says their superior customer service and attention to detail sets them apart from big box retailers, and the increased traffic Costco will bring to the area should boost sales.
“The small selection of bongs Costco sells are cheap plastic ones,” says Wagner. “You can’t buy imported elderwood and snakestone bongs at Costco, nor can you test out a bong inside a Costco before you buy it.”
Demolition of the houses is to begin this fall, and the Costco location is slated to open in the Spring of 2015.