Ground breaks on new Chemainus shopping centre

Fifteen years in the making, official sod turning ceremony marks the start of Chemainus Village Square.

Officials break ground on the Chemainus Village Square development during a sod turning ceremony June 13.

Officials break ground on the Chemainus Village Square development during a sod turning ceremony June 13.

It’s been 15 years in the making, but work is now officially underway on a brand new shopping centre for Chemainus.

Chemainus Village Square, the $14-million, 62,000-square-foot development broke ground June 13, and when completed, it will bring approximately 150-170 new jobs into the community, say developers.

Anchoring the shopping centre will be a brand-new 49th Parallel Grocery store, Pharmasave, the Chemainus Village Liquor Store and a financial institution which has not yet been announced by project helmsmen Ian Spurling and Len Wansbrough,

“We’re really happy to be working with local merchants to bring this shopping centre together,” Wansbrough said. “There’s a lot of shopping that goes outside of Chemainus, so we think with a centre for the community, it will attract more retail dollars and help strengthen the economy in Chemainus.”

On June 13, a groundbreaking ceremony was hosted at the site by the Chemainus Business Improvement Association and Chamber of Commerce. A crowd of about 100 people showed to get a first glimpse at the plans and celebrate the announcement.

“I don’t think anything could be better for Chemainus,” said Chamber president Peter Matthews, owner of Saltair Pub and the future Chemainus Village Liquor Store.

Peter Richmond, president of 49th Parallel Grocery, said the company will be opening its new store in the Chemainus Village Square in the spring or summer of 2013.

The new 49th Parallel Grocery store will be more than 21,000 square feet and will include full-service meat, deli, bakery and produce sections, as well as an expanded floral and garden shop. The grocery store will provide approximately 40 new jobs in the community.

“We’re very excited about it,” said Richmond. “It’s something we’ve wanted to happen for a long time. For a whole lot of reasons, it’s been put off for about 15 years. We’ve been in Chemainus doing business more than 30 years, and we’re excited to finally be building a new store.”

The current 49th Parallel store in Chemainus will not close when the new store is opened.

“The plans are we’ll keep a convenience store there, but we’re not sure how that’s going to look,” said Richmond. “We still want to be able to serve the ferry traffic and other people nearby.”

Richmond says there will be opportunities for staff from all 49th Parallel stores to move around or get promoted when the new grocery store is built.

“The store plans are pretty much done, and it’s going to be a beautiful store.”

Owner Wayne Richmond thanked the 800 North Cowichan residents who submitted letters of support for the store to the public hearing and the 400 who attended the hearing.

Chemainus Village Square will be bounded by Chemainus Road and Oak, Pine and Daniel streets, and developers are currently looking to lease out retail space. They are hoping to eventually get a medical centre secured on the property.

North Cowichan Mayor Jon Lefebure also announced that the municipality is going to be working hard to create a roundabout that will enable the traffic flow, be a part of the development and be part of making it attractive and functional.

“We’re happy to see it go ahead,” he said. “These men are making a very large investment in our community, and they see that we have a future. I think we will see other developments on the Benchlands on the Artisan Village that will follow this.”

When asked if the project may affect Chemainus’ downtown core, which has seen a growing number of vacant storefronts, Wansbrough said that the new shopping centre will target the local population, not tourists, adding that there is an approximate population of 15,000 within five miles of the development site.

“Downtown is more of a tourism place, and there’s a lot of money that goes outside the community that would now stay inside,” he said. “We think it will retain dollars in the community.”

Chemainus resident Marg Rose said she attended the ground breaking because she is excited about the project.

“We’ll be shopping here,” she said. “We’ve been waiting 15 years … I think it’s really great. There’s so many people close by that will be able to walk over.”

She added that she hopes the development might bring a Tim Horton’s to Chemainus.

For more information on the project, click here.