The food court at Cottonwood Centre is set to be removed in upcoming renovations to make way for a BC Liquor store that will be relocated. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

The food court at Cottonwood Centre is set to be removed in upcoming renovations to make way for a BC Liquor store that will be relocated. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)

Food court removal plan for Cottonwood Centre in Chilliwack sparks petition

‘We know it’s difficult for the public. We get it,’ says mall rep about food court loss in renovation

The food court is set to be removed as part of the upcoming renovations at Cottonwood Centre, mall officials confirmed.

The government-run BC Liquor Store will be relocating from Vedder Road to the Cottonwood Centre where the food court currently is, said Teresa Laynes, marketing manager for Cottonwood Centre.

“We know it’s difficult for the public. We get it,” Laynes said about the online reaction over the food court. “We do have empathy.”

Online shopping and the COVID-19 pandemic delivered “massive hits” to the retail sector, she pointed out.

“We have to change up the way we are doing things. We want to do what Chilliwack wants us to do, but ultimately we’re a business.

“Some decisions not everyone’s going to like, or understand.”

Some customers have been expressing disappointment about the anticipated loss of the food court as a place to meet.

A Change.Org petition titled ‘Stop the cottonwood mall from removing the food court’ had 474 signatures on Tuesday (Jan. 24).

“There’s not many places people can go to meet up and socialize in Chilliwack anymore, seniors especially rely on having this area to spend time,” according to the petition preamble. “I work as a caregiver so I’ve been seeing first-hand how disappointed seniors are about this decision.”

But it’s not “another” liquor store being added to the existing private and government-run stores, as some have criticized, it’s one that is relocating.

Also there are still 10 “great food options” on the Cottonwood property, including Cora, Church’s Chicken, Starbucks, and Quesada to name a few, Laynes said.

But it’s important to realize that large retail properties like Cottonwood can’t continue in the same manner that they have been operating for decades, she said.

Which tenants end up leasing in Cottonwood are decisions the retailers themselves make. It’s not mall management or City of Chilliwack deciding these things, which is part of the misinformation circulating online that she was trying to clear up.

“Those decisions by the retailers are based on demographics and other factors,” Laynes said.

Some in the retail sector are in post-pandemic recovery mode, she explained, others may be waiting for a population threshold to be met.

Things are changing though, and Chilliwack was recently named one of the fastest growing populations in B.C. in the last census.

That kind of growth is why Club16 Trevor Linden Fitness and Canadian Tire chose the Cottonwood Centre, she said.

Trevor Linden is describing the new Chilliwack location as the “flagship” for the brand.

“For some it feels like we are just taking away, but it’s important to look at what we are giving. People are asking for clothing and other types of shopping experiences, and we are on it,” Laynes concluded.

Late summer/fall 2023 is the anticipated start time for renovations that will include construction on the new liquor store and two other new commercial retail units (CRU), which have yet to be announced. Dollarama will remain, but in a slightly smaller footprint.

City council approved a development permit for Cottonwood Centre for the BC Liquor store and two new commercial retail units as part of the ongoing redevelopment.

Form and character for the proposed changes were approved by council Jan. 10, subject to the design review advisory committee recommendations that were suggested in August.

RELATED: New mall entrance for new liquor store later this year

Do you have something to add to this story, or a news tip? Email:
jennifer.feinberg@theprogress.com


@CHWKjourno
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City of ChilliwackLocal BusinessRetailRetailing

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