Wal-Mart could soon be opening its doors in Fort Frances.
Andrew Pelletier, director of Wal-Mart corporate affairs in Toronto, confirmed Wednesday morning the company indeed is looking to bring a store to this area.
“Yes, we are looking at the market,” he said. “Details are being worked out and we don’t have confirmation at this point, but we are looking at the market.”
So far, Pelletier added, the company’s research shows Fort Frances would be an excellent location for a new store.
“We don’t have a Wal-Mart in the area,” he noted. “Based on the population of Fort Frances and the surrounding communities, and the fact that a number of people leave Fort Frances to go to a Wal-Mart in another community, makes Fort Frances a good market to consider for a Wal-Mart store.”
Since a site has yet to be confirmed, Pelletier did not wish to comment on the nature of the store, how long construction might take, or possible opening dates.
“We are looking forward to becoming part of a great community like Fort Frances,” he remarked.
The Times had learned Tuesday that Stantec Consulting of Markham, Ont. has expressed interest in a large lot at 1250 King’s Highway (between Witherspoon’s One Stop and Jim MacDonald Motors Ltd.)
While it is known the town is proposing to amend the zoning bylaw to change the subject land from “heavy industrial” to “highway commercial,” and allow uses now permitted in a general commercial zone, it is not known what company is interested in the property.
Municipal planner Faye Flatt said she’s only had contact with the consulting firm, which has not been required to release the identity of its client at this preliminary stage of interest.
When asked about whispers the client might be Wal-Mart, as was the rumour around town yesterday, Mayor Glenn Witherspoon said he was aware of some interest in the lot, but said it was too early to speculate on what it might be used for.
The proposed land use amendment would permit the use of the property for the purposes of a retail store, business, professional, and administrative offices, personal services establishment, and banks or financial institutions as site specific.
This zoning bylaw amendment will be addressed at a public hearing during the Dec. 9 council meeting, at which time the public may attend and make a verbal or written representation either in support of or in opposition to the proposed change.