Is everything American cool again?

Post by Daniel Fontaine in



After years of battling City Hall, American corporate giant Wal-Mart set to open in Vancouver

With Obama now at the helm, is everything American now 'cool'? Say it with me: President Barack Obama.

Yes, America has turned over a new leaf this morning and it's setting a new direction for the Free World. Could one of the consequences of Obamamania be that everything American is now considered 'cool' again?

It is rather fitting that while the USA basks in the glow of their new, young, and ultra-charismatic leader, Vancouver is preparing to roll out the red carpet and welcome Wal-Mart, the poster-child of American enterprise. Yes, after years of battling Vancouver City Hall, and only a day after Obama's inaugural ceremony, Wal-Mart will finally open its doors in Vancouver.

Can it be long before we can get signature Michelle Obama knock-off dresses without having to drive outside city limits?

Now for those of you who don't live in Metro Vancouver, you might find it odd that we are only now heralding the arrival of Wal-Mart to Vancouver. That's because Wal-Mart has been in almost every single market in Canada for years now.

So why is Vancouver so tardy in welcoming Wal-Mart you ask? Well, for years, the corporation was the whipping boy for local activists upset with the Bush regime and everything it represented. They also portrayed the company as less than union-friendly. So the battle began.

That's why in 2005, when Wal-Mart tried to open up the world's 'greenest Wal-Mart' in the southside of Vancouver, a number of city councillors went on a rampage. Former COPE Councillor Anne Roberts led the charge arguing that Wal-Mart was a big, bad American corporation and allowing it to open was akin to Vancouver endorsing President George Bush and his foreign policies.

Roberts' rhetoric was often over-the-top. However, in the end, she was highly effective at convincing Council (with the exception of Mayor Larry Campbell and then Councillors Ladner and Sullivan) to kibosh the opening of Wal-Mart in Vancouver. This despite the fact that almost every neighbouring city had already opened a Wal-Mart of their own.

The death of the Wal-Mart development exposed the irony that Vancouver shoppers would have to continue jumping in their gas guzzling cars and drive out to the suburbs to access their favourite Wal-Mart.

Fast forward to today, and a black man is now the President of the United States, and Wal-Mart is finally going to open its first Vancouver location. So how did they do it? Wal-Mart that is.

This time they were able to circumvent Vancouver Council by purchasing an existing Costco site which didn't require a rezoning application. Presto, instant Wal-Mart and there was nothing Council could do about it. Those free enterprises, they'll stop at nothing.

So you might be wondering what happened to the original site where Wal-Mart wanted to build the world's "greenest" Wal-Mart? It remains a broken, graffiti-covered old warehouse, filled with boarded up windows and a couple of pigeon nests. A testimony to what happens when a Council chooses to engage in foreign policy debates, rather than sticking to land use issues.

So it's now official. America has Obama and Vancouver has Wal-Mart. It is serendipity that both events happened at almost the same time. Perhaps Vancouverites will finally put an end to all that US bashing, and realize that on at least some levels, being American is considered 'cool' again.


Folks on the Left act like spoiled 3 year olds ... and with the attention span to match. Now that "their guy" has been elected, suddenly EVERYTHING in the world is fine again. Give me a break!

Unless there's an Illinois native reading this, I would guess that I have more knowledge about the inner workings of Chicago politics than most others. The fact that many have convinced themselves that Barack Obama is somehow different than the legions of Chicago politicians before him is, well ... laughable.

I actually do hope for the very best for him and for America. After all, the better they do, the better we do. But when Obama is forced with tough choices and makes the "right" choice, which isn't necessarily the most popular or easiest choice, I will not be condemning him.

Let's see if the same can be said for those who cheered for him loudly today.

Even a Vision Vancouver Executive Member agrees that the Wal-Mart development on Southeast Marine Drive was a huge missed opportunity:

I don't know who these people are that 'get in their cars to drive to the burbs' to get their walmart fix but if that is the case then they should just stay out there. I'm not even a big lefty but it's pretty obvious that big box stores, especially wal mart are bad, really really bad.

They have a great reputation for running out mom and pop shops, paying horrible wages, bullying staff, forcing suppliers to cut their margins to the point of bankrupting them, yadda yadda yadda.

I don't really see the connection between obama and this since the decision to allow big boxes in vancouver was changed before his election.

It took balls to stand up to the mega companies and you're acting like we're missing out. Go move to Pitt Meadows and enjoy all the big box stores you want, I'll stick to Vancouver and enjoy some unique stores.

Is there a contest for most misleading, trite published piece of writing one can find? If so, enter this.

1) The entire article is based on a false premise, that the Wal-Mart location has anythin to do with Barack Obama being president, which you, yourself pretty much admit is completely foolish in the last paragraph.
2) The decision to deny Wal-Mart was a land-use decision. That's why council also decided to deny Canadian Tire's application, which, guess what, isn't a "big, bad Amemrican business." City council didn't want another large, big box store that is antithetical to public transit or pedestrian planning as well as the whole direction the city planning is moving in, regardless of whatever greenwashing Wal-Mart did. That's also why other big box stores that build urban-style developments and scale their stores smaller are accepted, i.e. Home Depot.
3) There's this huge insinuation in your article that Vancouver somehow flip-flopped, and buried at the bottom is the acceptance that they didn't, that Wal-Mart bought an existing store.
4) Your facetious tone is truly mind-numbing.

Check out!

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