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Safeway spells out expansion plans

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Increased traffic, buffering, and decreased property values were concerns brought forward by local residents on Safeway’s expansion plans here at a public information meeting last Wednesday.

While Safeway reps are aiming to address all these issues, taxpayers will get another chance to air their concerns to town council before it votes whether to give Safeway the go-ahead.

That public hearing, as required by the Municipal Planning Act, is slated Aug. 25 prior to the council meeting. And if council approves the plan then, there also is a 20-day appeal period.

“Our hope is that prior to the town meeting that any concerns that may arise could be worked through,” noted John Graham, with Safeway’s public relations in Winnipeg.

Town approval would mean getting started on the 150-day project before the snow flies this winter.

David Kressock, associate design/project architect of LM Architectural Group in Winnipeg, outlined plans for the 13,600 sq. ft. addition before about 30 people at last week’s meeting (about half of those were Safeway employees).

Plans include an expanded floral, deli, and bakery, along with nine checkouts and two express lanes. While there is a space allotted for a drug store, Safeway said there are no plans for one here at this time.

The total bill is expected to come in at $6.2 million, bringing the store to 44,000 sq. ft. in size.

But it was the expanded parking lot (an additional 100 parking spaces bringing the total to 249), and a new entrance along Church Street, which spurred complaints from residents living on the south side of that street.

“That’s going to be right in line with my driveway,” one woman argued, adding she feared increased parking along the street would mean she wouldn’t be able to get out of her driveway.

“I’ve lived there for 50 years and I’ll be darned if I’m not going to squawk,” she stressed.

Another resident was concerned about increased noise, with the proposed buffer to be about four feet high to screen parked vehicles—not shield from noise.

Kressock assured in his discussions with the town that traffic along the street would not increase.

As for whether it would mean decreased property values, Safeway reps felt a realtor or appraiser would best answer that.

“This wouldn’t precipitate a tax change,” noted Ted Berry, town planning and development manager, but added things like that were often viewed as a measure to reduce assessment.

Four houses would remain on the block. Kressock noted the two closest to Armit Avenue, owned by Safeway, probably would be leased out. The other two, closest to Victoria Avenue, will remain privately owned (though they are zoned commercial).

Meanwhile, whether expansion leads to more jobs here depends on how much added business the store gets.

“Employee-wise, it’s hard to give an exact number,” Graham said.

Graham noted Safeway had no projections but that they were expecting sales to increase as a result of the expansion.

“We’ll have to let time tell,” he added.

The Safeway store here currently employs 120 people.

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