Shoppers Drug Mart receives building permit for village location 

The municipality had issued a building permit to Shoppers Drug Mart to allow Canada's biggest pharmacy chain to renovate some prime village real estate.

The permit was issued on April 29 for tenant improvements at the Whistler Village Centre, once the proposed location for what became a controversial London Drugs. The building is owned by Larco Investments.

A representative from Shoppers Drug Mart would not confirm the move to Whistler this week.

The municipality's Mike Kirkegaard, manager of resort planning, said that putting a Shoppers Drug Mart in the village location is in compliance with zoning and bylaws.

"It meets our regulatory requirements," said Kirkegaard. "It's a permitted use and is not at odds with any other zoning or land use regulations that we have in place or that are under preparation."

Two new bylaws are being prepared at the hall and are expected to come before council in the near future. They are the restaurant zoning bylaw and the store size limit bylaw.

Essentially, the first bylaw would zone certain existing restaurant locations to restaurant use only. The latter bylaw would limit the size of stores to 5,000 square feet.

The proposed Shoppers Drug Mart, set to go into what was once the Guess store and other retail locations adjacent to and behind the Starbucks, meets the guidelines of those two bylaws.

Originally, the proponents looked at taking over the Starbucks location too, but that would have contravened the bylaw under preparation.

"The landlord and the perspective tenant decided to have a proposed location and size of store that were no longer inconsistent with the bylaws under preparation," said Kirkegaard.

Four years ago London Drugs looked at the Whistler Village Centre.

In addition to 5,000 square feet of above-ground retail space, London Drugs was also interested in 12,000 square feet of below-ground space for its location. That below-ground space needed to be rezoned before London Drugs could move ahead with its plans.

But in February 2007 the council of the day voted unanimously to deny the rezoning application amid several concerns, among them preserving the character of the village and the threat that a large chain store, offering cheaper products, could be to some local businesses.

After getting turned away from Whistler London Drugs opened a 30,000 square foot store in Squamish late last year.



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