Wal-Mart store to expand

Wal-Mart Canada has received a green light from Red Deer’s municipal planning commission to expand its south-side store. But it could be some time before the retail giant puts its plans into motion.

Wal-Mart Canada has received a green light from Red Deer’s municipal planning commission to expand its south-side store. But it could be some time before the retail giant puts its plans into motion.

On Monday, the commission gave conditional approval for a 29,400-square-foot addition to the Wal-Mart outlet at 2010 50th. The expansion would allow the store to be converted into a “supercentre,” with a full range of groceries, and interior and exterior upgrades.

Kevin Groh, the company’s director of corporate communications, said later that construction is unlikely to begin within the next year.

“Today’s approval sets us up to expand the store when the time is right,” he said.

“At this point, we don’t expect the project will happen for at least a year.”

Groh added that Wal-Mart is reviewing many markets, either for development of new stores as supercentres or for expansion of traditional stores. In the case of Red Deer, he said, the specifics are being worked out.

“In this case, the plan is in place but the details are still being shaped.”

The plan presented to the city on Monday contemplates the creation of a second entrance on the south side of the store. That prompted city manager Craig Curtis to question whether the 2.4-metre walkway along the front of the building is sufficient.

Curtis also expressed concerns that Wal-Mart is seeking to operate the expanded store with 682 parking stalls, 11 fewer than required under Red Deer’s land use bylaw. This deficiency would increase to 55 if Wal-Mart sets up a seasonal outdoor area from May 1 to July 31, which it previously obtained approved to do.

Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer voiced opposition to the Wal-Mart application for broader reasons. She said the proposal is contrary to the concept of sustainable development, promoting increased congestion in the area and greater vehicle use.

The commission’s approval was made conditional upon Wal-Mart’s entitlement to operate a seasonal outdoor area being reviewed, and the walkway in front of the new entrance being widened.

Wal-Mart opened the 130,000-square-foot store in Southpointe Common in 2000. It operates a second store in Parkland Mall.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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