December 19, 2018
by Nathaniel Johnson, The Welland Tribune
Welland could soon be home to the largest Canadian Tire Store in Ontario, and possibly Canada, if the city allows official plan and zoning bylaw amendments to move forward.
On Dec. 18, city council heard from Jonathan Rodger, a senior associate with planning firm Zelinka Priamo Ltd., about the proposed expansion of the store on Primeway Drive.
“This won’t be a stand-alone sporting good or clothing store.”
Rodger said Canadian Tire is looking to expand its floor area by 5,550 square metres, 3,329 of which would be used for a warehouse. It needs the amendments to permit the use and allow for certain exemptions when it comes to parking and other requirements.
Council heard Niagara Region planning staff are in support of the application and didn’t raise any concerns.
“This is well-suited for expansion and is consistent and conforms with provincial land use policies,” Rodger said.
Ward 3 Coun. John Chiocchio, the first to speak after the presentation.
“This is good news obviously,” he said.
Chiocchio asked how big plans would make the store in comparison to others in the chain.
“It will be one of the largest stores in Ontario,” said James Daniel, a development manager with Canadian Tire, adding it could make the store the largest in the country.
Ward 5 Coun. Claudette Richard was pleased to hear the news as well but asked why the company chose Welland to make one of its largest stores.
“It was a clear business decision and there was justification for expansion. The store is performing quite well and we decided to put more money into it and expand it,” said Daniel.
Daniel said the expansion would create new jobs to manage additional product being brought into the store.
Ward 1 Coun. Adam Moote asked if there is a plan to put charging stations for electric vehicles in the parking lot, to which Rodger replied it was not a request that had been made by city planning staff and is not something that is required.
“But Canadian Tire could choose to do it,” Rodger added.
The number of parking spaces was raised by council and by Doral Holdings’ Travers Fitzpatrick. Doral Holdings owns Seaway Mall and Fitzpatrick is one of Welland’s former chief administrative officers.
The expansion will see 319 parking spaces at the back on the expansion, on the north side of the property. With the growth, Fitzpatrick said Doral is questioning why fewer spaces than required under bylaw is sought.
“We just want staff to justify the numbers,” he said.
Welland’s manager of development approvals, Grant Munday, said Canadian Tire would encourage its staff to use the back parking lot, leaving the 353 parking spaces in front of the store for customers.
Munday also said six accessible parking spaces in the front of the store would suit its needs and none would necessarily be needed for the expansion at the rear.
There are no planned entrances for customers in the expansion space.
Fitzpatrick said Doral isn’t necessarily opposed to the expansion.
“We just have a few concerns we’d like answered and you won’t hear from us again,” he told council, adding some of the other concerns pertain to the fact there is no definition of a home and auto supply store in the city’s bylaw.
Chiocchio asked Fitzpatrick if the Canadian Tire expansion would benefit Seaway Mall with increased traffic travelling through the area, to which he replied it may.
Chiocchio asked Rodger and Daniel if part of the expansion strategy is due to growth to the east of the store in the Hunter’s Pointe area.
“That was definitely part of the process … it’s always good to have customers near the store,” said Daniel. “It was a key factor in choosing this store for expansion …”
Ward 2 Coun. David McLeod said from a planning perspective it looks like the expansion is a fit, especially with land available for it.
“I’m excited to have, perhaps, the largest Canadian Tire Store in Ontario and Canada,” said McLeod.
Council received for information a staff report on the proposed amendments. Staff will bring back a future report with recommendations in the future.