Cochrane makes room for big-box store downtown

Cochrane's town council revamped downtown zoning rules Monday night to pave the way for a big box store in the bedroom community near Calgary.

Cochrane's town council revampeddowntown zoning rules Monday night to pave the way for a big-box store in the bedroom community near Calgary.

Councillors who supported the project said it will improve a contaminated industrial site that has become an eyesore, as well as create jobs and keep shopping dollars in town.

The former Domtar site treated railway ties and has been vacant for 25 years. The projectplanned for the site will include smaller shops anchored by a big-box store four times the size usually allowed under town bylaws, most likely a Wal-Mart.

"I can see this having more negative impact on our quality of life than positive," said resident Laurel Pedersen.

Pedersonsaid she had hoped the town councillors would reject the proposal in favour of something more in keeping with the small town feel of Cochrane.

Ken Harrison, whohas lived in Cochrane for 28 years, said he wanted the land completely cleaned up. There are different levels of reclamation necessary, depending on whether the land is commercial or residential.

"What they're trying to do is bring a box store in there and do minimum cleanup on the site. We wanted the site cleaned up totally before anything goes on that site."

Resident Tim Giese said it is far too much retail for a town of nearly14,000.

"I don't believe this town is ready for it," he said. "I don't think we need to have that. There are options further down the road if people do want to go to a big-box store."

Steven Grossick, president of the Cochrane and District Chamber of Commerce, told CBC News in March that the rules needed to change because local shops lose money when people go to big-box stores in Calgary.

"They are probably going to gas up their car, they are going to buy some food. So that large item they were going to purchase becomes a few hundred dollars and it's quite significant."