Ire about upcoming changes to Chilliwack’s Cottonwood Mall has crossed the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge.
Agassiz-Harrison residents have made their disappointment clear on social media following the announcement that a government-run B.C. Liquor Store would replace the food court at Cottonwood Mall.
“We know it’s difficult for the public. We get it,” said Cottonwood Centre marketing manager Teresa Laynes. “We do have empathy.”
Laynes told Black Press Media that the retail sector has undergone massive hits with the rise of online shopping that was further intensified by the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have to change up the way we are doing things. We want to do what Chilliwack wants us to do, but ultimately we’re a business,” Laynes said. “Some decisions not everyone’s going to like, or understand. For some it feels like we are just taking away, but it’s important to look at what we are giving. People are asking for clothing and other types of shopping experiences, and we are on it”
Some local discourse on the issue decried the idea of a new liquor store. However, it’s not a new liquor store; it’s a relocated, previously existing store.
“It’s so nice to be able to go grab a quick lunch or even just a coffee and tea break,” Deborah Yellowknee said.
Several residents wondered where they would be able to go to take a break during shopping or simply gather with friends.
“Redesigning malls so everything is accessed via the parking area is a bad idea,” said Janne Perrin, referring to the outdoor-access design of the nearby Chilliwack Mall. “People go to the mall to shop and relax. That includes staying warm and dry (or cool in summer) and enjoying a coffee or a lunch out. New age malls are not people friendly!”
“It’s a gathering place for people to take a break during shopping,” Ina James-Point said. “Tell me where are people going to go for a quick meal, especially the staff that work in the mall? They aren’t going to have time to eat in a restaurant.”
On the subject of restaurants, there are multiple food options outside the mall itself and still on Cottonwood property, including Cora, Church’s Chicken and Starbucks.
Susan Haliti started a petition on Friday, Jan. 20, in hopes of stopping the removal of the food court.
“There’s not many places people can go meet up and socialize in Chilliwack anymore,” she wrote. “Seniors especially rely on having this area to spend time. I work as a caregiver, so I’ve been seeing firsthand how disappointed seniors are about this decision.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, the petition garnered 760 signatures.
– With Files from Jennifer Feinberg