Saturday, December 31, 2011

Brentwood Sky Dec 31, 2011

The last sunrise of 2011 was nice to look at this morning.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Brentwood Mall Redevelopment Open House

Although Public Hearings on its project will not occur until mid 2012, Shape Properties has placed a Notice of Open House in the Burnaby Now and the Burnaby NewLeader to consult with the public on its proposed rezoning application to redevelop Brentwood Mall.  The Open House will take place at the food court at Brentwood Mall on Monday, January 9 from 4:00-7:00 pm.

This is a good move by Shape Properties to ensure that locals are given an opportunity to consider the ramifications of the mega project as well as receive input or new ideas in its approach to developing Brentwood Mall into an urban centre of Burnaby.  I'll definitely take the opportunity to attend the open house.  Hopefully other local residents will come out to provide feedback and to express any concerns regarding possible traffic pattern changes affecting the Brentwood Park neighbourhood located north of the mall.

For those that do not attend the open house, I will provide as much info as I am able to on this blog.
The following excerpt is from the notice in today's issue of the Burnaby Now and Burnaby NewsLeader:

The intent of the proposed rezoning is to establish development guidelines in accordance with the City of Burnaby's existing adopted Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan, which would provide a framework for guiding future detailed rezoning applications for specific phases of new development.
The Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan (the "BTCDP") designates the subject property for mixed-use redevelopment, including high and medium residential densities.  The BTCDP specifically indicates low-rise residential forms along the rear lane that separates the subject site from the abutting single and two-family dwellings.  The BTCDP also conceptually indicates tower locations toward the interior site and along Lougheed Highway & Willingdon Avenue intersection.  A primary goal of the BTCDP is to balance commercial and residential uses.  A(s) such, it designates a large portion of the site for high density commercial uses with a focus on the Lougheed Highway & Willingdon Avenue intersection. The BTCDP indicates a significant public open space component.
The proposed preliminary development concept for the property is to transform, over time, the property into an urban "town centre" environment with a focus on street-orientation and very high quality public spaces.
The open house will be held on Monday January 9, 2012 between the hours of 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm at Brentwood Town Centre Mall in the food court.  The public is invited to attend this open house to view information on the proposed development as well as provide comments.
For additional information contact Benj Nelson at or

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Public hearings for Brentwood Mall Redevelopment not until mid 2012

According to the following story in the Burnaby NewsLeader, public hearings for the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment will not begin until mid 2012.  The story also confirms that Destination Toyota will relocate from its current location at Madison and Lougheed to the new auto mall at Still Creek.  This will undoubtedly open up the space for another high-rise development.

LOOKING BACK/AHEAD: Highrises galore in Metrotown, Brentwood


It may seem that Metrotown and Brentwood town centres are experiencing a spike in developments, but the construction activity is actually spread throughout the city, says Burnaby’s director of planning Basil Luksun.
In fact, over the past five years, Metrotown isn’t even in the top two in any of the density categories, he said.
For low-density projects, the Royal Oak and Edmonds neighbourhoods have been leading the way, for low-rise multi-family development, it’s Brentwood and Royal Oak, and in the high-density highrise category, it’s Brentwood and Edmonds.
But in 2011, Metrotown and Brentwood have certainly garnered their share of headlines.
In Metrotown, there are just over 1,500 housing units under construction right now, with another 1,100 units still going through the city’s rezoning approval process. Over in Brentwood, about 480 units are under construction, with another 1,300 units at the approval stage.
Appia Developments’ project on the southwest corner of Lougheed Highway and Willingdon Avenue, dubbed Solo, is a major project that will be phased in, likely built over 10 years depending on market conditions, Luksun said.
Brentwood Town Centre is also getting set for a major makeover with recently released promotional materials for the mall indicating the possibility of six residential towers being added to the 28-acre site ranging in height from 30 to 60 storeys, as well as offices and additional retail spaces.
Luksun noted that, contrary to a recent NewsLeader story, the property owner, Shape Properties, has not yet submitted a master concept plan to city hall for approval. The planning department is working with the company but a public hearing isn’t likely to take place on the project until the middle of 2012.
Once the concept plan is approved, the company would have to apply for rezonings for each phase of the project.
Burnaby city hall has long had plans in place for the Lougheed corridor even before the Millennium SkyTrain line was built, he said. It had planned to add density there back when light-rail was still being considered as it had always envisioned a transit station at Brentwood.
Spurring development in the area is the moving of car dealerships that used to call Lougheed home. Morrey Nissan has moved to new digs off Willingdon and Still Creek, while the Toyota dealership will move nearby into an auto mall under development.
The Carter GM dealership site on the eastern side of Willingdon is also designated for future development but city hall has yet to receive a proposal for that property, Luksun said.
Over in the Metrotown area, a major redevelopment of Station Square Mall is going through the approval process with a plan that includes five towers ranging from 35 to 57 storeys each. The first phase being proposed is for offices and housing along the Kingsway frontage. The developers hope to start construction in 2012 with the entire phased project expected to take about 10 years to complete.
Bosa Properties’ Sovereign, currently under construction at the northeast corner of Willingdon and Kingsway, will be 500 feet tall, with a 169-room hotel topped by 202 units of condominiums. It sold out in six hours last February.
Polygon’s 37-storey Chancellor highrise, next to Bonsor Recreation Centre, also sold out quickly and is under construction, with a 35-storey tower by Concord Pacific Holdings Ltd. set for a site kitty-corner, on the other side of Nelson Avenue. New condo towers are also earmarked for sites on Beresford Street at Dow and Telford avenues.
Metrotower III, the third office tower in the complex adjacent to Metropolis at Metrotown mall, recently announced it will restart construction in January after work was halted due to the effects of the 2008 economic downturn.
Luksun said city hall will be working with TransLink in the new year on a redesign for the Metrotown SkyTrain station to better integrate it with the surrounding area and the planned redevelopment projects.
As it is for the rest of the city, redevelopment is moving ahead according to plans that have been in place for many years.
“Council is very consistent in its application of policies and plans,” he said. “It makes the rules and guidelines for the development community quite clear.”

Brentwood Mall 'High Street' will create nightlife

Each day as the evening approaches, the area around Bentwood Mall becomes a gloomy void as street-level human activity significantly wanes when the stores in the mall begin to wind down their operations.  With no amenities other than the disorganized chaos that is Zellers and the London Drugs at the rear of the mall opening outside regular mall hours, the place becomes quite desolate.

The Brentwood Redevelopment, if planned well to create a good balance of retail and entertainment amenities, should jolt the area out of its current pattern of falling into a sleepy lull by 8pm.  Along with the introduction of an entertainment plaza that will include restaurants and a movie theatre, the redevelopment will include a "High Street" running from the northwest to the southeast of the mall site between Willingdon and Beta Avenues, north of Lougheed Hwy.  This street will have 2 distinct sections with a "Fashion District" towards the northwest end and a "Village District" at the southeast end of the site.

The Village

According to the retail brochure from Shape Properties, 10, 000 sf of retail space will face out at street level on Lougheed Hwy and Beta Ave in the SE corner of the development.  This retail space will be situated between Beta Ave and a new entrance off of Lougheed Hwy.  Immediately above this retail space will be another 10, 000 sf of retail along with 82, 000 sf more of retail space throughout the Village at the first level.  The second level will include more than 26, 000 sf of additional retail space in the west end of the Village near the Alpha Ave entrance.  The corner of Beta and Lougheed will see a 40-story, 320-unit residential tower above the retail space there.  West of this tower will be a 50-story, 400-unit residential tower above the retail space just east of the Alpha Ave entrance.

Considering the size of the retail space envisioned in the Village, we can expect a grocery store to serve the 3000 plus new residents of the site (half of them in the Village itself) and the existing residents immediately east and north of the mall.  An IGA marketplace-type of grocery store would be a nice fit here (though nothing has been confirmed) and it may be a bit of a stretch, the recent closure of the IGA in the Montecito area near Burnaby Mountain Golf Course is fuelling my speculation.  Other amenities in the Village might include a coffee shop or two, a family restaurant, a neighbourhood pub, medical clinic, specialty bakery, a liquor store,  a dry cleaner or other service-related business.

Pedestrian access from the northeast end will be facilitated by stairs into the Village from the single family residences there.  The pedestrian access will go to/from Beta across the street from Ridgelawn Drive.  The new entrance off Lougheed will provide access to the scores of pedestrians that currently enter off Beta Ave from Brentwood Drive.  The entrance on Beta Ave will be closed to make room for retail space.

Fashion District

Although I'm not a "fashionably astute" consumer, it will be nice to see a variety of clothing and footwear choices for the odd day that I need to replenish my "wardrobe".  For me, this stretch of "High Street" will merely serve as an access to and from Brentwood Station or the entertainment area next to it...unless a Tim Horton's steeped tea gives me good reason to make a stop along this stretch.  Here's hoping.

As one walks westward towards the "Fashion District" (FD), the atmosphere should begin to take on a livelier tone with the presence of commuters going in and out of Brentwood Station/Bus Loop.  This part of the street will have shops that will tend to open later than the stores inside the mall and will certainly see a spill-off of people from the station and the entertainment plaza next to it.

The street-level entrance to the FD off of Alpha Avenue will include 6, 700 sf of retail space at the east corner  (Village) and 9, 000 sf at the west corner (Entertainment Plaza).  The first and second levels of the FD will each include over 85, 000 sf for a total of over 170, 000 sf of retail space.  Now that's a lot of clothing and shoes.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Brentwood Sky December 22, 2011

It will be interesting to see the difference between this view and the one we'll see by 2016.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vantage from Sears rooftop

In keeping with the spirit of this time of year, the crane at the Vantage project on Rosser and Lougheed has become visually prominent in the evening.

Once the Vantage tower is complete, its view from the Sears rooftop will not last very long as the Solo District development will rise in front of it at the SW corner of Lougheed and Willingdon.  That in turn will become blocked by the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.

Drivability and walkability after the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment

Several of my posts have focussed on the need for improving walkability and cyclability in our neighbourhoods and my tone may appear to be anti-driving to those that would never consider walking anywhere other than to their car.  My seemingly anti-driving tone is only a product of the fact that our neighbourhoods and cities have been designed with the automobile as the centrepiece of moving people and goods over long distances with nearly no thought for other forms of movement.  Believe it or not, I am not a cycling fanatic (I have a bike but haven't ridden it for over a year) and I do own a car (in fact between my wife and I, we have 2 cars).   I have had the luxury of being able to use public transit to get to work and to walk for at least half of my shopping needs as I live near Brentwood Mall.  The convenience of having 2 cars for the busy moments of my life is still something I have been willing to spend (or waste) my money on.  My personal goal is to reduce my need for having 2 cars and eventually to having no cars as this area begins to add enough amenities to allow me to do everything within walking and cycling distance.  I digress...

Having had a chance to view the map showing the potential locations of the new car lanes, entry/exit points into the BW Mall property as well as the underground parking entries/exits in the BW Mall Redevelopment, some pedestrian and driving issues will be resolved but other potentially problematic issues may arise.  Let's start with the positives.


  • The creation of a walkable outdoor strip (within the current BW Mall parking lot) lined with shops away from the noisy Lougheed Hwy will create a more calm environment for everyone to leisurely stroll around among the outdoor amenities of the new mall.  The "Fashion" and "Village" sections of the new street will be buffered from the noise of Lougheed Hwy by the placement of commercial fronts and high-rise towers along its outer length.   I know that I'm not the only one that ends up feeling a sense of urgency when I walk along a busy, noisy, high-speed street despite not having to get anywhere in a rush.  The noise of high-speed traffic is a source of unnecessary stress for pedestrians.

  • In a previous post, a reader made a comment about the current chaos that occurs at the eastern exit from BW Mall, north of Beta and Lougheed and across from the Brentwood Gate complex at Beta Ave.  The nearly non-stop crossing of pedestrians at that uncontrolled intersection (instead of at Lougheed and Beta where traffic signals are in place) is a potentially dangerous situation for both pedestrians and drivers as it has become a frustrating bottleneck for drivers.  There you go... I just cited an issue that negatively affects drivers.  I speak of that location from the experience of having both walked and driven there (I don't intend to test my cycling prowess on those slopes of Beta though... anyone?). The closing of that exit and its relocation onto Lougheed Hwy will divert pedestrians coming out of Brentwood Drive down to Lougheed Hwy to cross Beta Ave.
Though calm during early mornings, this spot is a scene of constant chaos during the day as pedestrians and drivers navigate this uncontrolled intersection at Beta Ave and Brentwood Drive.

  • The relocation of parking stalls underground will make the site less treacherous to the eyes of pedestrians trying to get to Brentwood Station.  I currently have to navigate through the parking lot to get to the station and am always looking over my shoulder during dark, early mornings as I have to walk in and out of car lanes.

Potential Negatives

  • The envisioned plan for underground parking entry/exit points has them placed well within the mall site and would require vehicles to cross above-ground at intersections with the "Fashion" and "Village" streets where pedestrians would be crossing.  The Station Square entrance to the underground parking off Kingsborough and McKay has been a frustrating place for drivers since the day it was built.  It is always a constant bottleneck for drivers as they wait for pedestrians to intermittently cross the intersection.  The random, unstructured pace of pedestrian movement has never been compatible with the 4-way stop located at Station Square.  This situation leads to unnecessary idling as drivers are nervously lined up waiting to cross as the crowds unexpectedly appear, disappear and reappear.  A dark, rainy day or night makes it even worse.   It's no bed of roses for pedestrians either.  Solution:  Perhaps the entry into the underground parking could be placed at the outer edge at Lougheed Hwy and at Willingdon Ave from where vehicles could go directly underground via ramps.  An "emergency/service vehicles only" lane onto the "High Street could be created to meet safety and servicing needs.  The space that is opened up along the "Village" and "Fashion" streets from the removal of the intersections could be used for further enhancements or for more commercial space.

  • The arrival of nearly 3000 new residents at the BW Mall and the increase in visits from surrounding areas of Metro Vancouver will end up creating more traffic woes for the residents of the single-family homes in the Brentwood Park neighbourhood.  Rat running is already becoming a problem as many drivers are becoming increasingly aggressive and rude as they cut though the neighbourhood, particularly along Brentlawn Drive between Willingdon and Delta Aves.  The BW Mall Redevelopment will only exacerbate the problem.  Solution:  Residents of the area must voice their concerns about traffic in their neighbourhood before the problem becomes worse.  Local residents must speak at the public hearings and the financial burden should fall on the developer and or City to fund traffic calming in BW Park and not on the residents as the Burnaby Local Area Services Program (LASP) currently requires.  The City might allow the developer to increase density in exchange for funding traffic calming in BW Park.  This will never happen unless enough local residents speak up at the public hearings.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Brentwood Mall Redevelopment in Burnaby NewsLeader article

The Burnaby NewsLeader just published a story regarding the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  I also noticed that the links I provided in the previous 3 posts to detailed maps of the project, have been removed from the Shape Properties' website.  However, images of the maps have been imbedded into the blog posts for viewing.  Below is the story in the Burnaby NewsLeader.

Brentwood Town Centre redevelopment plans in works

A massive makeover is planned for the Brentwood Town Centre property, although the details are still being worked out.
That's according to Darren Kwiatkowski, executive vice-president of Shape Properties Corp., which purchased the mall in 2010.
A company brochure, ostensibly designed to attract tenants to the shopping centre, has been made public in which it states six residential towers ranging in height from 30 to 60 storeys tall are being planned.
But Kwiatkowski stressed that no details have been decided yet. Public consultations, including open houses, are set to take place in January and February.
"It's all a work in process," he said.
"Six towers is kind of what fits comfortably along the two frontages there, so that's definitely what's looked at."
The company has submitted a master plan to Burnaby city hall for rezoning approval which conforms with the city's community plans for the site, he noted. The city's long range plans call for "the transformation of that site over time into a more city-centre, urban environment, mixed-use, walkable community on the SkyTrain [line]."
The master plan rezoning application is expected to go to public hearing in March or April. If adopted by Burnaby council, rezoning approvals would be required for each phase of the project before work on each one can begin. Construction is expected to start sometime in 2013 with each phase taking up to two-and-a-half years to build. The number of phases is also yet to be determined, and will depend on market conditions over time, he said.
Of the 28-acre site, the existing mall takes up eight acres, giving Shape Properties 20 acres to work with.
Residential highrise towers would be located closer to the corner of Willingdon Avenue and Lougheed Highway by Brentwood SkyTrain station, and away from the single-family neighbourhoods at the northern end of the property, he said.
The existing mall would remain open throughout construction and in the longterm  would be augmented by streetfront retail spaces. Parking would be moved mostly underground over time, to underground parkades on the southern end of the site and above-ground structures built into the slopes at the northern end.
Provision would be made for up to two office towers to be added in future due to its attractive location next to SkyTrain.
Kwiatkowski said the project could potentially use Burnaby city hall's density bonusing program to add density in exchange for providing city-owned amenities, but that also hasn't been determined yet.
"It's a balance of coming up with the right plan that provides the intended density on the site next to the SkyTrain station where the city has planned to grow, and at the same time leaving it loose enough that public plazas and streetscapes are feeling good. We don't want to lose that quality of patios in the sunshine and a great ground experience.
"The balance of residential, office and commercial all plays into that."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Brentwood Mall Entertainment Plaza

When most people think of Brentwood Mall, "entertainment" is not part of the image that comes to mind as it does when Metrotown is mentioned.  The only reason I go to Metrotown is either to watch a movie or to find an item that Brentwood Mall does not have (usually a book at Chapters).  The image of Brentwood Mall is about to change as Shape Properties has made public, its intention to transform the mall into an entertainment destination.  One of the key components of the redevelopment, an "Entertainment Plaza" (EP), will be situated immediately northwest of Brentwood Station.

The outdoor EP will be surrounded by entertainment-centered amenities that will include a movie theatre, restaurants and cafes.  According to the plan map released by Shape Properties, the EP will be elevated when viewed from Lougheed or Willingdon (bottom left of map below).

Click map to enlarge or

According to the map, there will be 13 units of commercial amenities designated as part of the EP at ground level.  It doesn't end there.  A second level which will include an overhead pedestrian walkway connected to BW Station will wrap around the open plaza below with 8 more units of amenities plus a movie theatre and more amenities on a third level being part of the EP.

We can expect some big name, "cookie cutter" restaurants to take up shop in the new development,  but hopefully along with some unique restaurants and cafes to add some flavour to the mix.

This spot next to Brentwood Station at the northeast corner of Willingdon Ave and Lougheed Hwy is the site of a proposed Entertainment Plaza envisioned by Shape Properties (BW Mall owner).  The open air EP will be surrounded by a theatre and numerous new entertainment-focused amenities and should become a gathering place for many.

Friday, December 9, 2011

6 residential towers to transform Brentwood skyline

The Brentwood skyline will be significantly different come 2015/16 mainly due to the 6 residential high-rise towers slated to rise along the southern and western perimeters of the Brentwood Mall property.  According to the plan soon to be submitted for public hearing early next year, 4 of the towers will stand at 50 stories or higher.  The 2 smaller towers of 30 and 40 stories will be situated at the northwest and southeast corners.  It appears that they will sit atop commercial/retail space below.  The estimated 3000 new residents will greatly expand the local customer base for the mall and nearby businesses, and will support the arrival of new retail and entertainment amenities that will accompany the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.

Soon gone will be the days when we are able to have some quiet time shopping and strolling around the little mall that is currently Brentwood Town Centre.  Good or bad, the arrival will bring a marked increase of pedestrian and automobile traffic to the area.  The increase in automobile traffic might be the necessary trade-off to build a complete neighbourhood where many locals are able to work live and play without getting into a car.

This view will no longer exist from this vantage as an office tower in the foreground attached to the mall and 2 residential high-rise towers along the edge of this parking lot next to Lougheed Hwy will form part of the Brentwood Mall Redevelopment.  This photo was taken from the top of the roof parking above Sears, looking south towards Metrotown in the distance.
This part of the parking lot along Lougheed Hwy will see residential towers sitting atop ground-level commercial/retail amenities.  3 residential towers will line Lougheed Hwy from this point to Beta Ave.
The other 3 residential towers will be situated along Willingdon Ave beyond the cleared area in the foreground.  This spot next to the station will be the location for what Shape Properties describes as an "entertainment plaza."  The question arises; where will the bus loop go?

Brentwood Mall Redevelopment to begin in 2013

According to Shape Properties' website, the Brentwood Redevelopment will begin in late 2012 or early 2013. The proposed development will include 6 residential towers (2 as tall as 60 stories) and a 25 story office tower above the existing mall.  Although impressive, what surprises me is that there is only 1 office tower proposed for the entire development.  Public hearings are expected in early 2012 (next month). The following update is from Shape Properties:


This existing regional mall in Greater Vancouver was acquired by Shape in 2010 and is currently undergoing redevelopment and rezoning plans to build out an additional 1.2 million square feet of retail density.The redevelopment plan envisions a signature destination with an urban feel that will support sustainable lifestyles where people can shop, work, live and play. As a mixed-use, transit oriented city core, the new Brentwood will be a preferred shopping, leisure and entertainment destination for the region, and an attractive home for residents and businesses with the introduction of new residential and commercial office opportunities. This pedestrian friendly, indoor/outdoor retail and residential community is expected to start unfolding in the Spring of 2013.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Solo District in detail

I found the following information with extensive details of the Solo District Project at the SW corner of Willingdon Ave and Lougheed Hwy. The info is from the Director of Planning to the City Manager and is available for viewing on the City of Burnaby Website.

Click to enlarge and scroll through the documents

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mayor Corrigan mentions Brentwood in inaugural address

The following excerpts mentioning Brentwood are from Mayor Derek Corrigan's inaugural address (City of Burnaby website).

Based on the Mayor's statement on the Brentwood Mall redevelopment, it seems very likely that the Mayor has seen the plan that will be submitted by Shape Properties.  I wonder of it is available for viewing at City Hall?

Inaugural Address
In addition, the construction of a new Environmental Centre will begin in 2012. This centre will be home to the City’s yard waste and recycling facilities, our solid waste division and parks operations and maintenance. It will offer a more convenient and efficient dropoff facility for the public and encourage a higher level of waste diversion through recycling and composting.
A new Gilmore sewage pump station will be completed in 2012 to accommodate population growth in our developing Brentwood Town Centre. Its design incorporates state-of-the-art technologies to ensure high operating efficiency and cost effectiveness. It will be built using green building design principles with a public engagement component that will highlight the City’s investment in service infrastructure.Brentwood’s transformation continues and is another example of our City’s success in creating unique urban centres. Our planning for the location of the Millennium SkyTrain Line – with three town-centre stations –has become the catalyst for development. The Brentwood Town Centre Development Plan recognizes and capitalizes upon this significant transportation corridor by designating its highest, most efficient land uses within walking distance of the stations.
Redevelopment interest in Brentwood remains strong, as indicated by several major development applications approved and advanced in 2011.
As we look forward to 2012, new plans for the redevelopment of the Brentwood Mall site will establish it as a model green community and an important legacy for future generations.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Zellers' union in Target's crosshairs

The following Vancouver Sun story highlights how an anti-union culture  is being brought into Canada's retail landscape by big US retailers such as Target Corp.  Target recently purchased all Zellers locations and has stated its intention to break up the union representing workers at Zellers Brentwood Mall.

Vancouver Sun story below

Burnaby's Zellers staff want union agreement honoured

Dispute before Labour Relations Board hinges on whether Target is a ‘successor’ to Zellers

Target is taking over Zellers stores in Canada and that’s led to a dispute between the U.S. company and the union representing 120 employees at the Brentwood Mall Zellers in Burnaby.

Target is taking over Zellers stores in Canada and that’s led to a dispute between the U.S. company and the union representing 120 employees at the Brentwood Mall Zellers in Burnaby.

Photograph by: JESSICA RINALDI, Reuters

Unionized staff at a Zellers outlet in Burnaby are hoping to force Target Corp. to honour their collective agreement when the U.S.-based discount retailer takes over the store lease next year.
The union representing 120 employees at the Brentwood Mall Zellers said workers have been told they will be laid off following the store’s conversion to Target, and will be rehired without union status.
Andy Neufeld, spokesman for the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union, Local 1518, said Target has a reputation for being “aggressively anti-union” in the U.S.
Earlier in November, the UFCW filed an application with the B.C. Labour Relations Board seeking to have Target declared the “successor employer” to Zellers. If successful, the successorship application would ensure the existing collective agreement with Zellers will remain in place despite a change in ownership.
“We think there is enough indication there that [Target] intends to operate the business in a way that is comparable to Zellers; therefore, we think there is pretty solid grounds to pursue a successorship application,” Neufeld said.
Target has yet to officially respond to the application. However, company spokeswoman Lisa Gibson said in an email that Target is aware of the filing and will dispute the union’s position.
“We believe the transaction between Zellers and Target is a real estate transaction and not the acquisition of a business, technology or employees. As such, we do not believe Target is a successor employer under applicable law and do not believe that there was reasonable cause to file a successorship application and will contest the filing,” Gibson wrote to The Sun.
The Brentwood Mall Zellers is one of 125 to 135 Zellers locations across the country — and the only unionized location in B.C. — slated to become Target as part of a $1.825-billion lease-takeover deal reached earlier this year between the companies.
Target has said it will spend up to $11 million to convert the Zellers stores to fit its low-cost retail model, with most opening in 2013 after a six- to nine-month renovation.
At the heart of the labour dispute is whether Target intends to take over Zellers’ business, or the location.
Larry Page, a labour relations lawyer based in Vancouver who is not involved in the case, said a decision by the LRB will likely be based on the fine print written into the lease-transfer agreement between the two employers, including the details of the transaction between Zellers and Target and the nature of Zellers’ business.
“The focus here is the business,” Page said. “If [the LRB] can track the business from the seller to the buyer, then certification and collective agreement go with the business. If the business has effectively been terminated by the closure of the Zellers store, and Target has not taken on that business, then there wouldn’t be a successorship.”
Page said disputes over successorship rights are common among businesses, and questioned the UFCW’s anti-union accusation.
“If Target has structured this deal so that it is not taking over the business of Zellers, there is no reason for it to automatically assume certification and collective agreement.”
Gibson said Target’s emphasis is on “creating an environment of mutual trust between Target and our core team members, an environment that promotes listening, responding to the concerns of team members and always giving honest feedback. Target believes in solving issues and concerns by working together with the help and input of all team members.”
Target announced in September its plans to open outlets in Kamloops, Kelowna, Penticton, Prince Rupert, Salmon Arm, Dawson Creek and Victoria, as well as several locations across Metro Vancouver.

More articles on this subject:
Nov 29, 2011
Union says Zellers’ locals should remain after Target take-over
B.C. union files application with labour board to declare Target ‘successor employer
The union representing workers at a Zellers in Burnaby, B.C. has filed an application with the B.C. Labour Relations Board, asking for Target to be declared as the “successor employer” when the company opens operations in Canada.

American-based Target plans to convert 135 Canadian Zellers stores by 2013. Their current plan is to let go of all of the Zellers staff and hire its own employees.

Currently, 15 Zellers stores are unionized.

By asking the B.C. Labour Relations Board to declare Target as the “successor employer,” the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union hopes the soon-to-be Target store will continue to be unionized and keep the workers employed. Canadian labour laws require successor companies to hold on to unions if the company is opening a similar business in the same area.

“The reason we filed this application is to ensure Target honours its legal obligation under B.C. labour law,” says UFCW Local 1518 president Ivan Limpright. “After Target bought Zellers earlier this year, we made a point of reassuring our Zellers members that their long-term job security is a top priority for the union.”

Limpright says UFCW 1518 intends to resume negotiations for a renewal collective agreement shortly. The union expects contract talks will continue during the Labour Board hearing.

Lisa Gibson, a spokeswoman for Target, told the Globe and Mail the acquisition of Zellers leases “is a real estate transaction and not the acquisition of a business, technology or employees. As such, we do not believe Target is a successor employer under applicable law and do not believe that there was reasonable cause to file a successorship application.”

Gibson indicated that Target will contest the application.

Canada is not new to American-owned operations opposing unionization when setting up shop north of the border. After a Jonquiere, Que. Wal-Mart voted to unionize in 2005, the company shut down the store.

Earlier this year, 150 Wal-Mart employees in Gatineau, Que. decertified their union after just one year with their first collective agreement. Employees at a St-Hyacinthe, Que. Wal-Mart decertified their union in March 2011 after the union spent years in court trying to achieve an agreement.