A Dollarama store will be the newest addition to Sandwich Town after Windsor council approved an application to renovate the former Westside Grocery property, which has been vacant for two years.
The owner plans to open the Dollarama while also putting an addition off the back of the building for storage and office space.
Ward 2 councillor Fabio Costante said it’s a net positive for Sandwich Town that someone is willing to redevelop the vacant space, although he admits the area is in desperate need of other amenities.
“This is not the grocery store, this is not the bank that Sandwich Town needs. But this, in my view, is a piece of the revitalization puzzle of Sandwich Town, attracting 100,000, 200,000 or 300,000 visits a year is going to spur other activity,” Costante said.
The store is expected to bring in 20 to 25 jobs and Costante believes the city reached a pretty good compromise with the developer to create signage and a façade that fits in with the heritage characteristics of Sandwich Town.
Council had a long discussion about the location of the main entrance, which is currently located off the side of the building, about eight feet from the sidewalk.
Ward 4 councillor Chris Holt believes moving the entrance to the front of the building is better aligned to urban design concepts and makes for a more walkable community.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask we demand better in our communities,” Holt said during summations. “This isn’t about a door. This is about a relationship to the public realm. This is about developing a whole system of success as opposed to just about a door off a parking lot.”
Holt said it’s time that we demand better.
“It’s time that we actually treat our communities with the respect they deserve using good urban design and that’s what the location of this door is,” said Holt.
Costante asked council to support a balanced approach that respects Sandwich Town and ensures it remains open for business.
“Tonight we’re signaling to future developers and future investors that we’re willing to compromise and we’re not going to fidget on a door being eight feet away from the main street,” Costante said.
Costante said the project could be a catalyst for the area and a case study for other developers to watch closely.
“I think we’re going to get one day to a tipping point where there’s going to be a strong business case for the grocery store, for that bank for those core amenities that are desperately needed that matter to residents in Sandwich Town,” he said.