The renovated anchor space at Haney Place Mall that housed Target will now become a Walmart, the company announced Friday.
Twelve former Target leases have been acquired by Walmart across Canada, following the departure of Target earlier this year in an ill-fated foray into the market.
Total cost of taking over the dozen lease locations, a distribution centre and one property formerly owned by Target, will be about $165 million, Walmart said in a release Friday.
Maple Ridge residents Brent Lockie and Jessica Gillingham heard about Walmart’s arrival earlier Friday morning.
“I like it. It’s about time they got Walmart in Maple Ridge,” Lockie said outside the closed Target location. “Maple Ridge is three-quarters low income. It will help the economy.”
Gillingham added: “I think it’s better than having to travel to Coquitlam all the time.”
One of Target’s mistakes may have been not been using local suppliers and bringing in everything from the U.S., she said
“Walmart is everywhere in Canada. Their prices are reasonable.”
Another passer by added, “Glad to hear it.
“Put me down for 10 times,” added another.
And Maple Ridge resident Ken Crawford also was happy.
“Ecstastic. Target was a joke in the first place,” he said.
But Kathie Hazlewood, from Victoria, had a word of caution. “Beware – local businesses may suffer because they bring in everything from the U.S.”
With the farms in Maple Ridge, she added, there should be an agreement to use local producers.
The Downtown Maple Ridge Business Improvement Association’s Ineke Boekhorst says it’s a positive step for the downtown.
“I guess that’s what people wanted in the first place. It will definitely attract a lot of people to the downtown. I think bringing people to our downtown is very important.”
A Walmart also will offer jobs to replace those lost when Target closed in March, she pointed out.
Narland property, which owns Haney Place Mall, said Walmart’s arrival will bring stability to the mall and increase retail traffic to the mall and downtown.
Walmart has wanted to come to Maple Ridge for years.
“This opportunity presented itself and they acted,” said Chris Sherry, with Narland.
The Walmart announcement coincides with Friday’s opening of Rexall Drugs in the mall. That will bring a “fresh, modern look to the centre.” The arrival of the two stores will bring jobs and “continue to rejuvenate the downtown core,” Sherry said.
Walmart will also plow in another $185 million to renovate the stores.
That will start in a few months with the opening days confirmed later.
“Walmart is committed to the Canadian market, and this agreement helps us accelerate our growth plans ensuring more Canadians have access to our low prices,” Walmart Canada president Dirk Van den Berghe said in a release.
“The 13 stores acquired are well situated, and we are excited to bring Walmart’s successful supercentre offer to customers in these markets. We have served millions of loyal customers, and look forward to continuing to serve them through our stores and growing e-commerce business.”
Walmart plans on hiring 3,400 employees for the 13 locations in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec.
The other new B.C. Walmart locations will be Scottsdale Mall in Delta, Coquitlam Centre, and Surrey Place.
Target announced last January that it was shutting down all its 133 Canadian stores, including the Maple Ridge location, which opened in November 2013, and employed about 120 people, only to close in March 2015.
Target gave the former Zellers building an $11-million renovation, including a building expansion and improvements to the western end of the Haney Place Mall parking lot.
The deal however is subject to the court process currently underway in Ontario as Target leases are auctioned off to various companies.