The human cost of the Walmart mall

This is the west (Garden City Road) end of the SmartCentres/Walmart Mall site in Richmond, B.C. Until a couple of weeks ago, it was mixed urban forest.

This is the west (Garden City Road) end of the SmartCentres/Walmart Mall site in Richmond, B.C. Until a couple of weeks ago, it was mixed urban forest.

At least one Friend of Garden City still lives in the Alexandra Neighbourhood, where the half-kilometre from Garden City Road east is being cleared for the Walmart mall. The goal is essentially to cover the entire area—over 150 metres wide—with sand, eliminating all plant life.

The Alexandra Neighbourhood used to be quiet at night, even near Alderbridge with its traffic coming off Highway 91, because the trees and other vegetation muffled the sound. Now we’re told that it is very noisy all the time. The resident also sent us this account of what it felt like to see the forest cleared:

I cried seeing the empty lot that once was Alexandra houses. It’s a devastation, all those trees, I am so sorry to see them go. My poor neighbour and her family who lived in one of the houses, she is very sad and not having a home for her two gorgeous cats. We will likely have to give up our cat and can’t take hers.

I was shocked one day when I came home on the bus, passing the devastation. The bus driver thought I was having chest pains when I let out this gasp when I saw it and burst into tears. I couldn’t hold in the emotions.

Too few on council would give a thought to the human cost. With a little concern for the less privileged of our community,  the human cost could have been lower—and more than offset by gains in community wellness.

There would have been no great loss to Walmart and its developer partner, SmartCentres. I think the cost to them could have been more than offset with well-earned public relations value.

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