By John Moorhouse
Penticton’s retail sector continues to expand – with Walmart now planning a $7-million expansion.
Officials at Walmart Canada’s head office in Mississauga, Ont. confirmed Monday that the Penticton store will become a Walmart Supercentre next year.
A building permit was taken out at City Hall in mid-October. Plans call for construction of a 2,750 square-metre expansion to begin early in 2013, bringing the store to about 16,300 square metres in overall floor space.
A formal grand reopening for the store is planned for the latter part of next year.
The Walmart expansion follows last month’s opening of the new Real Canadian Superstore owned by Loblaws Inc. in the former Zellers building.
Mayor Dan Ashton said this is another example of how Penticton is becoming the regional retail centre for the South Okanagan-Similkameen.
“It provides an opportunity for consumers to, No. 1, shop locally without going up the Valley (to Kelowna),” he said. “It also gives them an opportunity for good competition.”
Ashton said such free enterprise in the retail sector allowing consumers to benefit from a greater choice of stores. More jobs can also result, he added.
Anthony Haddad, the city’s director of development services, said Walmartís plans call for a greatly expanded grocery area for the store. The expansion will take place next to the north side of the existing building.
Haddad said the building permit is valid for two years, although work must begin with six months of issuance. A development permit was issued last summer.
The Peach Tree Square property is not located within any of the city’s economic investment zones, he said. Therefore there will be no waiving of property taxes covering the upgrade.
Walmart Canada recently opened its 200th supercentre in Edmonton and now operates 373 stores across the country.
Jim Thompson, Walmart Canada's chief operations officer, noted in a news release that Walmart has 73 real estate projects planned for the current fiscal year, adding about 460,000 square metres of retail space to its operations.
Walmart supercentres offer a larger assortment of merchandise, combining general merchandise with a full selection of groceries including bakery goods, deli, meat and dairy products, and fresh produce.
"The more communities we join, the more supercentres we open, the better we are able to deliver on our commitment to provide Canadians with one-stop shopping, convenience, selection and everyday low prices," said Thompson.