Community survey supports London Drugs 

President said his company is on the right track

A recent community survey has assured Wynne Powell, president of London Drugs, that they are on the right track in their efforts to bring a store to Whistler.

"This survey was a follow up, another reality check, to see how do the customers feel about us coming to Whistler," said Powell this week. "Of course I was delighted with the results of the survey with 81 per cent saying they would shop at London Drugs."

That’s not all they said.

The survey, which canvassed 300 residents over the telephone from May 30 to June 2, revealed that 70 per cent of residents were in favour of a London Drugs store in the village (43 per cent strongly in favour, 27 per cent somewhat in favour).

In mid-May London Drugs submitted an application to municipal hall for a 17,000 square foot store in the space now filled by Eddie Bauer. The majority of their store however would be underground in the empty space once filled by the Alpenrock – an arcade, bowling alley, family restaurant and bar. That space is currently zoned for indoor recreation and London Drugs needs to get it rezoned in order to set up shop in Whistler.

In the meantime council is considering a new bylaw which would limit the size of new village stores to a maximum 5,000 square feet. It is designed to stop "big box" retail from coming to the resort.

More than half of those surveyed (54 per cent) were opposed to the municipality’s proposed bylaw. Thirty-two per cent of those surveyed were in favour of that bylaw.

"We actually comply with their (proposed) bylaw on the first floor," said Powell. "The question is whether or not that second floor is appropriate for us to have rezoned and we hope the answer will be yes.

"You have to look at the needs and wants of the community and our survey seems to indicate the community in this particular case at this point in time would prefer having a London Drugs there."

If the store is turned down in Whistler it will mark a first for this B.C. company, which has never been turned down anywhere before.

"I think at the end of the day the municipality has a great opportunity here to help shape Whistler for the future and I hope that London Drugs will be a part of that future," said Powell.

London Drugs commissioned the Mustel Group, an independent professional survey company, to do the Whistler survey.

As for the survey size of 300 people, Evi Mustel of the Mustel Group said the size is "more than ample." There is a margin of error of plus or minus 5.6 per cent she added which means 19 out of 20 times the survey will give the same results.

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