By Doug Hallett
Optimism is on the upswing that Loblaws will build a Zehrs supermarket in the city’s retail-deprived east end.
“We are hoping within the next 18 months a firm position can be taken on this,” Coun. Jim Furfaro said last week.
He and fellow Ward 1 councillor Bob Bell updated residents on the situation at a ward meeting last week, where the east end’s lack of basic retail amenities such as a supermarket and a drug store was again discussed.
Furfaro said in an interview Friday that he’s more optimistic now about the prospects for a supermarket being built on land owned by Loblaws near the corner of Starwood and Watson, in the vicinity of the east end library branch.
“I am more optimistic, yes, very much so,” he said.
A year and a half ago, a Loblaws official told him and Bell that a Zehrs store “was not even on the radar for the next eight or 10 years” in the east end, Furfaro said.
Recently, though, the councillors have been told Loblaws is working with more than one developer to try to make a supermarket a reality at the east end site. Nothing specific has been said at this point about the ongoing discussions with developers, though.
“I can understand their being general about some of their comments, because it is a sensitive issue and there are negotiations going on,” Furfaro said.
The key message he is trying to relay, he said, is that Loblaws “is working to get a store in there. They realize it is a need in the east end, and they are trying to accommodate that.”