Vancouver city council has rejected Wal-Mart's bid to build its first store in the city, a big-box outlet on Southeast Marine Drive

The vote was 8-3, with all eight COPE councillors against the project.

Only the two NPA councillors – Sam Sullivan and Peter Ladner – along with Mayor Larry Campbell, supported the project.

The vote followed a debate among councillors, with those opposed saying their decision was based on land use and the potential impact on the community.

"Big-box stores create traffic congestion, cause air pollution and harm small businesses," said councillor Anne Roberts, who led the battle against Wal-Mart.

But Councillor Peter Ladner said there was a real "undercurrent" that wasn't officially part of council's debate: "About Wal-Mart's labour practices, it's sourcing practices, the satanic nature of giant multinational corporations."

That comment sent the debate about traffic and land use into more political territory. "The largest contributor to the Bush regime in his re-election campaign was Wal-Mart," said councillor Tim Louis.

After the vote, Anne Roberts said what she wouldn't say in council. "I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart, and I've always been concerned about their labour practices, about getting goods from sweatshops."

Wal-Mart's proposed store
But Roberts insists her opposition to the 143,000-square-foot store was based on the development proposal itself, and the traffic and congestion it could bring to South Vancouver.

Just before dealing with the Wal-Mart application, council also rejected a big-box Canadian Tire store in the same area of Southeast Marine Drive.

And with both proposals now dead, Roberts says she now wants city staff to re-examine the zoning that allows developers to build big-box stores within city limits in the first place.