On December 6, residents and members of the newly formed University Plaza Area Residents Association in Dundas will appear before Hamilton’s Committee of Adjustment in an effort to stall changes at the neighbourhood plaza which would see the Metro grocery anchor store replaced by Canadian Tire. The deal between Plaza owner RioCan and Canadian Tire – which includes the addition of a 10 bay auto centre adjacent to conservation lands and the Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail — was reached without consultation with the community and without independent studies to assess impacts to the environment and the area’s livability.
Dundas and environs is considered a “food desert” with the per capita grocery retail space at under 3 sq ft. Removing the largest grocery store in Dundas will bring it to less than 1 sq ft per capita, which the group states is not sustainable for the population of over 24,000. The only remaining full-service grocery store would be the Metro on Governor’s Road, which is half of the size.
Dundas has the highest proportion of seniors of any ward in Hamilton. Dorothy Foord (95-year old area resident) and Adele Wojtowicz (one of the Association directors) appeared on Cable 14 City Matters on November 27th to discuss the issues and concerns.
Dorothy, like other seniors in the area, lives independently and relies heavily on having easy access to the grocery store. This is also a vital social element as they meet one another there daily, shop, and interact with the staff.
While Zoning permits the auto service centre use, it also states that it “cater to the weekly and daily shopping needs of residents in the immediate and surrounding neighbourhoods.”
Local resident Kris Gadjanski believes the proposal not only doesn’t comply with the city policy for meeting neighbourhood shopping needs, but also contradicts RioCan’s own policies to “minimize the environmental impacts of our developments, assets and procurement by protecting the natural environment, reducing resource consumption and pollution and increasing waste diversion and renewable energy use.”
Similarly, the group questions how taking over a vital large grocery store in a neighbourhood plaza adjacent to conservation lands without consultation or studies of the impacts, is in keeping with Canadian Tire’s sustainability policies and promises to Canadians.
The group’s online and hard copy petitions circulating in the area have quickly collected over 1,600 signatures from local residents & is continuing. The group is raising funds and has a gofundme account to assist with expenses and legal action, if necessary.
Another local resident said: “This is a 1960s style one-stop neighbourhood plaza where families, seniors and students walk to get groceries, a quick meal or daily household items. It is not a big box store development beside a major highway. A Canadian Tire with 10 auto service bays just doesn’t belong here.”