Since news of the Kootenay Co-op’s purchase of the 708 Vernon Street property was announced last month, the grocery store has been gathering feedback from member-owners and the larger community.
“The feedback has been very enthusiastic overall. Our current facility exceeded its capacity years ago,” says general manager Deirdrie Lang. “As we continue to grow, the need for a larger downtown space with parking has been a clear priority for the majority of our members.”
Criticism of the move has been primarily in the form of expressions of concern for the staff of Extra Foods.
“We live in a very caring community and that’s what people are expressing,” says marketing and outreach manager Jocelyn Carver. “We share the concern for the Extra Food staff.”
“It’s important to understand that the Co-op did not terminate the Extra Foods lease,” said project manager Russell Precious. “The lease was terminated because the property owner chose not to renew it. The property owners have their own reasons for deciding to sell the property instead.”
However, the sale of the property does not necessarily mean the imminent closure of Extra Foods.
“We recognize the impact of those job losses.” said Lang.
For that reason, she explained, the Co-op has contacted the regional vice president of Loblaws and offered to negotiate a short-term lease on the property that would allow Extra Foods to continue operating for another six to 12 months. This would also help shorten the time between when jobs are lost and new jobs are created.
In the meantime, the Co-op will consider several different development options for the property. Relocation will be a year or two into the future.
The Co-op will be seeking member input and expects there will be multiple opportunities for member and community participation. The next opportunity for member input regarding the redevelopment will be at a special general meeting, March 19 at 7 p.m. at the Best Western Baker Street Inn. All members are encouraged to attend.