Proposed expansion of Shoppers brings despair

Restauranteur fears for future in light of slated development

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/12/2011 (3897 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A restaurant owner is distraught that he will likely lose his business to make way for a proposed expansion of Shoppers Drug Market in Osborne Village.

Bac Bui family has owned Vietnamese restaurant Vi-Ann next to Shoppers on Osborne Street for the past 10 years.

Blueprints displayed at a recent open house hosted by MMM Group showed details of a plan that would see Shoppers approximately double its current 10,000-sq. ft. location and include a partial second storey.

Photo by Simon Fuller From left to right: Thao dang (chef), Bac Bui (owner), Leslie Tu (former chef and Bui’s interpreter and Trinh Diep (server) at Vi-Ann Restaurant in Osborne Village.

The plan, which stems from the city’s approval of the Shoppers Drug Mart Redevelopment Plan in May 2011, includes adding a covered pedestrian walkway to Safeway next door and increasing the number of parking stalls, by one, to 29.

The proposed expansion would incorporate the space currently occupied by Bui’s restaurant and Movie Village.

Bui, who was visibly upset when talking about the plans, fears he no option but to let his business go.

“It’s very sad. I’m very disappointed. I only found out about this a few days ago,” Bui said, noting he arrived in Winnipeg from Vietnam in 1975 and worked in a factory for 25 years.  

“This place is my life. If I lose it, I die. There is nothing left for me, you know.”

Bui, who leases the space, said he doesn’t know if he will relocate his restaurant if the plan gets approved.

“I honestly don’t know. At my age, there’s no place for me to go,” said the Garden Grove resident, noting his gratitude to the customers that have made massive makeshift cardboard signs for patrons to sign in support.

“If we have to start again, where are we going to get our loyal customers from?”

 Next door, a concerned area resident said Movie Village is a vital part of life in the village.

“It’s an integral part of the community and not just because it provides a service,” said Shannon VanRaes, who has lived in the area for four years.

“It’s a meeting place. It brings in people from other areas of the city, which provides business spin-offs and traffic.”

VanRaes said the area does need development, but it should be development that meets the needs and character of the community.

“Combining three businesses into one is nothing short of cannibalizing the very essence that makes Osborne Village a desirable place to live and work,” she said.

“This expansion will add no new services, it will actually take away from services. If I wanted to live in a big area, I’d move to somewhere like Regent Avenue.”

A representative for Shoppers said the company wants to bring a “full service offering” to the village, which typically requires “14,000 square feet in selling space alone.”

“This is why we are looking to expand the store footprint beyond what exists today,” said Tammy Smitham, Shoppers’ director of communications and corporate affairs.

“This new store will cater to changing customer demographics, including an aging population and increasing consumer demand for convenience food and beauty products.”

The plan will go to the city’s board of adjustment on Dec. 21 at 5 p.m. at city hall.

Restaurant staff have set up a Facebook page for supporters of the restaurant. Visit Facebook and search for Save Vi-Ann from Shoppers Drug Mart.

simon.fuller@canstarnews.com

Simon Fuller

Simon Fuller
Community Journalist

Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at simon.fuller@canstarnews.com or call him at 204-697-7111.

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