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General support for Loyalist Parkway development – with concerns

Picton’s business community members who responded to a survey generally support plans for a large development on Loyalist Parkway – but have concerns.

The 65,000 square foot development, across the highway from No Frills, includes a new location for the Sobeys grocery store, a restaurant and two unconfirmed uses, but believed to be a dollar store and pharmacy.

The Picton Business Improvement Association (BIA) is to present results of its survey of business owners and residents at the County’s planning meeting Wednesday at Shire Hall.

Robyn Molyneaux, chair of the BIA board of management, in her letter to council, said the survey from more than 140 business owners and BIA members shows support for Sobey’s move, but concerns for the establishment of “chain” businesses in direct competition to existing downtown businesses owned by local residents.

“What we heard from our membership was broad and substantial support for Sobeys move from their current location (because of) the current location’s limited size, inadequate storage, parking and congestion are all well-known, and understood,” said Molyneaux , although there she noted there was also some unease expressed about the plaza losing its anchor tenant.

One respondent noted the Sobeys keeps the small mall alive and calls for a Winners or Home Sense to save on trips to Belleville, or “something that equally draws people from all walks of life, otherwise that mall will become stagnant and just an eyesore in the heart of the town… That little mall, at a main traffic light, could be a delightful shopping place with the right store that most folks would frequent often.”

However, another respondent noted the Sobeys parking lot is way to small. “I can’t even shop there at times when I want to.”

A dollar store, drug store and chain restaurant were perceived as directly competitive, she said, as two dollar stores and three drug stores (not including the pharmacy at No Frills) already exist in the downtown.

“It matters to me if the chain restaurant and dollar store are locally-owned franchises or not,” stated another respondent. “I believe we should make an effort to ensure these businesses have local owners.”

“Other members more strongly supported free-market values and competition and felt it was not their, or the BIA’s role to determine what kinds of businesses locate to Picton and that healthy competition is essential to a dynamic economy,” said Molyneaux.

“Competition is good for business. Don’t be afraid of it,” another respondent noted.

Another stated paid parking downtown versus free parking at the out of Picton location will affect the downtown as it did in Belleville.

“In our discussion with project developers, they expressed willingness to explore the option of accommodating smaller shops in the development, which from our perspective may allow for small, local businesses rather than keeping this development exclusively for large chain retailers/restaurants.”

The survey results showed 60 per cent opposed to the dollar store (almost double those in support); and a 50-50 split on support for the drug store. Forty-nine per cent supported a chain restaurant; 38 per cent opposed and 13 per cent “didn’t know”.

“The BIA also heard concerns about the lack of impact the Downtown Revitalization project seems to have had on this development. The County led a two-year partnership with OMAFRA and the five downtowns (Picton, Wellington, Bloomfield, Rossmore and Consecon)” noting documents reflect “that large part of the success of Prince Edward County is the small-town charm of our downtowns.”

“Perhaps the most significant issue for BIA members/business owners and residents alike, is that of connecting this town gateway area of Picton to the downtown core,” she said. “It became increasingly clear that most considered our town to be somewhat fractured. .. There is incredibly strong support for sidewalks and bike lanes (88 per cent and 85 per cent).”

She also noted support for a shuttle bus at 47 per cent, and acknowledgement the County is already engaged in discussion about public transit.

Molyneux said the BIA recognizes connecting all of Picton is not the developer’s responsibility though appreciated their readiness to be involved in construction of sidewalks from the Picton boundary near Cold Storage road to their site.

“With the news of adjacent proposed housing developments having approximately 450 new houses, connectedness and access becomes even more critical,” said Molyneux. “All Picton businesses need effective means of brining in customers and staff…. If the commercial development creates a one-stop shopping service, it greatly reduces the need to go downtown.”

The development, she added, also brought forward the issue of extending the BIA boundaries established in 1991.

“Much has changed in the subsequent 26 years and it is time for the growth of Picton to be accurately reflected.”

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  1. Chuck says:

    There are some pretty hot soccer Mom’s that shop at the Beach Bum.

  2. Theresa Lennon says:

    No one HAS to drive to Walmart, they choose to. The Walmartification of North America has resulted in the absence of general merchants everywhere. Most like it cheap.

    I do not drive and I am not a well-off individual. For what it is worth in this conversation, I have managed to find almost everything I need in Picton, with a little time and ingenuity. As a pedestrian, I am an expert in patience and perseverance.

    Sometimes I will make a Deseronto Transit bus trip to Belleville, but not often. I will definitely lug my groceries home from the new Sobey’s location in my bundle buggy, as I do now. Please let there be a sidewalk, though I bounce around on the front lawns now, very close to speeding cars. Will be a danger with all the turning in and out and left and right of the parking lots on both sides of the parkway.

  3. Paul Cole says:

    I do recall a local business that would close for a couple month during the winter this was quite a few years ago.. I won’t mention names but the business has a Buttocks (Bum) on its sign….

  4. Paul Cole says:

    Bring on the competitive pricing where the consumers benefits its about time. Less congestion down town gezz maybe even a transit system would be feasible. Kudos to Sobeys…

  5. Marnie says:

    That’s great news, Cynthia, but what do you have for the older set? Remember a large percentage of local residents are seniors – they may not do sweatshirts and tees much. Do you stock men’s dress pants and items of women’s clothing that are not sportswear? Do you have fall and winter jackets for men and women – clothing that people are likely to be shopping for now The name of your store suggests casual summer clothing and beachwear for the younger set – locals and tourists alike. That bikini-clad derriere on your sign does not belong to anybody’s granny or a soccer mom.

  6. Cynthia Nicholls says:

    Competition is healthy. Large chains would only put small businesses out of business on the Main Street. You have to remember that Picton is a small town and supplying this population with everything it needs is not feasible.

    Marnie, I just sold a men’s sweatshirt this morning. I have men’s (and women’s) short sleeve t’shirts on at 2 for $30 – name brands. I have 2 racks of ADDITIONAL 50% OFF items. I have a rack of boys t’s at 2 for 15 or $10.99 each. I take offense that people think we – business owners – are here to cater to only the tourists. If that were the case I would close down for 10 months of the year.

  7. wevil says:

    glad to see things moving forward a little competition is healthy

  8. Emily says:

    Wouldn’t be driving to a Wal-Mart wasting $$ on junk.

  9. Marnie says:

    Main Street has few stores of consequence now if you are shopping for men’s clothing, housewares, home furnishings etc. It is all restaurants, ice cream parlors and gift stores for the tourists. A lot of it is dead now unless you happen to be a tourist or a well-off individual who can afford high-end stores. We have to drive to Wal-Mart now for a lot of everyday items that we need.

  10. Emily says:

    All they need next is a Wal-Mart out that way and we will be well on our way to creating a North Front Street. How did that work out for Belleville’s downtown. Or Napanee’s as well.

  11. Susan says:

    Well now only one of those supermarkets will remain in the edge of downtown. As for the sidewalk I hope they aren’t expecting foot traffic out there to lug groceries home.

  12. Marnie says:

    We were treated to the same bally-hoo when No Frills came here. It would seriously hurt the two existing supermarkets etc. Both of those stores are still here today and doing very well. The Dollar Store is no longer a “Dollar” store. A lot of its merchandise costs a lot more. It could stand some real competition.

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