The Walmart Myth

It seems every time a sizable vacant property is cleared, Sunshine Coast residents start speculating about whether Walmart Canada is coming to the area.

It’s been nearly a decade since Walmart announced it was going to build a 115,000-sq.-ft. store, in partnership with Wesbild, beside the Gibsons Park Plaza.


“We know from research and discussions locally that Sunshine Coast residents would welcome a Walmart store,” the release issued on Feb. 27, 2007 said, but the project faced some community and political opposition and was eventually shelved.

In the years since that plan fell through, buzz that an announcement from the big box retailer is imminent has been a regular part of the rhythm of life on the Sunshine Coast.

Speculation started heating up again when work began on site preparations at the shíshálh Nation property on Highway 101 where a gas station, mobile home park, and employment centre once stood. It was further fueled by word that the SIB was offering the employment centre building for use as a homeless shelter – on condition it was moved before February, when a new lessee was to take over the land.

Other locations that have been coming up include a block of land on Field Road, and the lot involved in the 2007 Walmart announcement.

“Things are pending,” shíshálh Nation Chief Calvin Craigan told Coast Reporter earlier this month. “There will be an official announcement probably early in the new year. That’s all I can tell you.”

The shíshálh Nation aren’t the only ones keeping mum. Walmart Canada hasn’t responded to Coast Reporter’s repeated requests for comment.

Wesbild confirmed it still owns land adjacent to the Gibsons Park Plaza, and it will likely be used for an expansion of the shopping centre some time down the road. The developer has repeatedly said, however, that the idea of a Walmart at that location is long dead.

  • Sean Eckford

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