It looks like a Wal-Mart store will be coming to Leslieville after all.
Wal-Mart Canada announced late last week that it has completed the acquisition of the leasehold rights of 39 Zellers stores from Target Canada, which is set to open more than 100 new locations across the country by 2013.
These new Wal-Mart locations, one of which will be Gerrard Square, are expected to open by the end of 2012.
Just two years ago, the community, with the strong support of Toronto-Danforth Councillor Paula Fletcher, fought and succeeded in stopping the development of a 700,000-square-foot big box retail complex on the site of the former Toronto Film Studios on Eastern Avenue. A Wal-Mart store was widely expected to be one of the anchor retailers in the new shopping centre.
"The issue on Eastern Avenue was putting 700,000 square feet of retail in an employment zone," the Ward 30 representative said during a recent interview, adding the city can't stop Wal-Mart from moving into Gerrard Square.
"Whether you like Wal-Mart or hate Wal-Mart, it is totally zoned commercial. It fits. It's the best of both worlds."
Fletcher said this move is "a bit of a win-win" for the local business community as big box stores aren't "gobbling up the waterfront."
"It's a bit of a Mexican standoff," she said.
In light of the recent economic uncertainty and community opposition to opening major big box complexes in the downtown core, the retail giant is now exploring other avenues by opening smaller 'urban' style stores.
"We are pleased to have the opportunity to bring more Wal-Mart stores to Canadians across the country," David Cheesewright, Wal-Mart Canada's president and CEO, said in a Sept. 23 release.
"Each new Wal-Mart store will deliver everyday low prices on thousands of items Canadians need."
Wal-Mart also plans on opening new locations in North York's Sheridan Mall and Scarborough's Cedarbrae Mall.