Canadian Tire big box blasted as "ecological bigfoot"

A Canadian Tire executive told Vancouver city council that the proposed 262,210-square-foot big-box store at 26 Southwest Marine Drive will be the "greenest Canadian Tire store in Canada" once it is built.

Trent Holfeld, a vice president in the company, said at a public hearing on November 13 that the proposed building features sustainable design standards that will conserve energy and water.

Holfeld's assertion was countered by former city councillor Anne Roberts, the first speaker of many opposed to the project.

Roberts, a member of the council that rejected big-box stores in the city in 2005, noted that Canadian Tire hasn't provided precise figures on the greenhouse-gas emissions its proposed store will generate. But she said that estimates done for Wal-Mart, a big-box retailer that has an undeveloped property adjacent to Canadian Tire's, could be a guide.

Roberts said that Wal-Mart's green design was projected to save 500 tonnes of emissions per year. In addition, another 11 tonnes each year would be saved because local residents wouldn't have to drive far to shop. However, Roberts said the same estimates indicated that the increase in car trips to and from the store would generate about 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of annual emissions.

"It's great that corporations are doing something to reduce energy consumption," Roberts told council. "However, the reduction in GHGs [greenhouse gases] is insignificant compared to the GHGs generated by this form of car-oriented development."

Early on in the public hearing, COPE Coun. David Cadman lambasted the project as an "ecological bigfoot".

Brent Toderian, the city's planning director, has recommended approval of Canadian Tire's application to rezone its property at 26 Southwest Marine Drive to allow a large-format retail store to be built. He admitted at the meeting that the proposal wasn't evaluated in terms of sustainability, a major plank of Mayor Sam Sullivan's EcoDensity initiative. However, Toderian reminded council that it hasn't adopted any major policies with respect to EcoDensity.

Council resumes the public hearing tonight (November 15).

Link: Report to city council on 26 SW Marine Drive [pdf document]