It’s been several weeks now that the Co-op has been overseeing the demolition of the old building, and the excavation and preparation of the site of our new store. On Thursday, February 26th we raised toasts and ceremonially dug the earth at a small Ground Breaking ceremony attended by Co-op staff and Board, City representatives and consultants, and various partners for the project. It’s both exciting and a little terrifying too – so many of us are holding high hopes and dreams for what our future holds. And the period that it will take to get there is not to be without it’s challenges either; as my dad recently commented to me, there’s less available parking in the area for folks patronizing the businesses and services in the immediate vicinity.
While it’ll mean more noise and inconvenience as trucks and machinery come and go to the site, the result will be that in the autumn of 2016 we will have our homegrown, member-owned grocery store in a central downtown location providing fresh, tasty and nourishing whole foods. What’s more is that besides providing us with great food, the size and scope of the store itself – with our mandate to purchase ever more of what we sell from sustainable local producers – will work itself to increase the very fabric and resiliency of our local foodshed.
So while the construction phase may feel like a hassle (unless perhaps you’re a young child, who instead of avoiding that area, wants to head down regularly to watch the action!), the trade-off is real. By patiently working for years to secure real estate to grow our local food store in an underutilized central location, we’re avoiding adding pressures to expand our city’s footprint which so many communities buck to. Indeed we’re designing our new Co-op as the community meeting place we’ve long grown accustomed to being, and using the muscle we’ve built after 40 years of being a vibrant community player to house more families in the heart of our community.
As we work to balance our growth within the natural limits of our precious environment, we’re mindful of what’s at stake. And during this week wherein we’ll celebrate World Water Day (Sunday, March 22), let us remember the dream the Co-op is nurturing for our region, and keep our sights set on living each day with our needs in the future being the guide to our actions today.
-Paula Sobie, Board Director & Chair-Member Outreach Committee