Rainbow expansion worries Whistler businesses 

Alpine Meadows Market owners voice concern over Rainbow's request for commercial expansion

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Whistler resident and RCP partner Sam Brovender says the additional square footage will allow the development to fulfill what was originally promised to the community. He argues that commercial studies done by RCP show Whistler is underserved by its current grocers, based on population statistics. He thinks long-term growth at Rainbow, Cypress Place, Wedgewood, and Legacy will mean an increase in consumer demand over the next 20 years.

Complicating the issue is that major grocers looking at putting down roots at Rainbow want to provide an in-house pharmacy, something that can't be done without the extra square footage. A stand-alone pharmacy will take a minimum of 4,000 square feet, leaving only 500 square feet for additional services if the additional square footage isn't approved.

While he says he empathizes with the concerns of Heintzman and Kerr, Brovender thinks the user base is different enough that their business won't be impacted.

"I can understand the concern of a grocery store going there and affecting their business but whether it's 8,000 or 16,000 feet - they (public) are going to have enough choices in an 8,000 foot store that would stop them going to the Alpine convenience store.

"Having said that, they have distinctly different users. You don't go to a convenience store to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, you go to a grocery store. You go to a convenience store to buy a quart of milk," said Brovender.

"So my option is to build just the grocery store and have limited other services, or add the density and complete the project. My thought is if I live there, why would I want to have half a grocery store? It means you can get half your stuff there, then have to get in your car to drive to get the rest somewhere else."

Creekside Market owner Jerry Marsh isn't concerned that the Rainbow grocery store will impact his business, but questions whether Whistler requires another grocer.

"I don't think another grocery store is needed, maybe once a year at our busiest time at Christmas there seems to be lineups and it gets pretty busy but I don't know about a full time one - that big of one anyways.

"I wouldn't open it," he said, adding that he has discoursed amicably with Brovender on the subject.

"I think the gas stations is definitely needed at that end of town, the gas station and convenience store, but I can't really see the need of another grocery store in Whistler, myself. I think there is ample."

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