Shoppers expansion plan OK'd by city board

A Winnipeg municipal board has approved Shoppers Drug Mart's bid to expand its Osborne Village store, despite opposition from some residents and at least one business owner.

Drugstore officials, critics of expansion plan address Winnipeg board

Winnipeg's Board of Adjustment approves drugstore chain's plan to expand its Osborne Street store, despite some public opposition. 1:15

A Winnipeg municipal board has approved Shoppers Drug Mart's proposal to expand its Osborne Village store, despite opposition from some residents and a neighbourhood restaurateur who says he would be forced to close his business if the expansion goes ahead.

The City of Winnipeg's Board of Adjustment gave the green light to Shoppers' zoning application at a meeting Wednesday evening.

Vi-Ann Restaurant owner Bac Hguy Bui told CBC News on Wednesday that he hopes his business won't have to close. (Mychaylo Prystupa/CBC)

Opponents of the proposal will have an opportunity to appeal the decision, the CBC's Angela Johnston reported from city hall.

The pharmacy chain wants to purchase then demolish the buildings next to the store on Osborne Street and Roslyn Road in order to add 13,231 square feet of retail space.

The Board of Adjustment decision is about the zoning application only, not the sale of the properties. 

The buildings that would be torn down currently house Vi-Ann Vietnamese Restaurant and Movie Village, a longtime independent video store.

Vi-Ann owner Bac Hguy Bui said he found out from his customers that his landlord wants to sell the building to Shoppers Drug Mart, which means the restaurant would have to close.

"It hurt me, you know. I spend so much time, I'm working so hard," Bui told CBC News earlier on Wednesday.

"But I earn it today … I earn it by my time, you know."

Second floor could be rented out

Shoppers Drug Mart spokesperson Tammy Smitham said the leases for those buildings are slated to expire in the coming year.

"Those leases will end, and the landlord came to us to purchase the property," Smitham said, but added that the company's plan includes a second floor that could be rented out.

"So potentially the current tenants could lease that area, should they be interested in it," she said.

At Wednesday evening's meeting, Shoppers Drug Mart representatives told the board that the Osborne Street store needs more space for its pharmacy, food and post office services, adding that the new design would keep with the "urban character" of Osborne Village.

But critics argued that the drugstore expansion would damage the trendy neighbourhood's character.

Bui himself addressed the board, saying he feels overwhelmed by the number of people who have signed petitions in support of his restaurant.

With files from the CBC's Angela Johnston