Residents in the Five Corners area of West Cloverdale are standing behind a local convenience store against a potential rival wanting to build on the opposite corner.
Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition aimed at Surrey City Hall against proposed 7-Eleven to be built at 168 Street and 60 Avenue.
As of this week, 987 people and counting had signed a petition being put forward by Five Corner Convenience, a family-run corner shop owned by Ramandeep and Parminder Gill.
Some customers were even coming into the store just to sign it, said Ramandeep, as she dealt with the after school rush from nearby Surrey Centre Elementary on a recent afternoon.
She’s worried about the impact a 24-hour competitor and franchise will have on her business – but what it would do the neighbourhood.
“If we [have to] close the store, we will still live in this area,” she said, adding there are concerns that a business open 24 hours might attract criminal activity.
“Everybody has different views” on what else could be done with the property, she said, adding the neighbourhood would welcome another restaurant, a laundromat, even a cold beer and wine store – just not a 7-Eleven.
“Everyone’s kids grow up in this area. They don’t want to worry all night.”
The property in question is directly across from her shop at 60 Avenue at 168 Street, adjacent to a cluster of small businesses including a restaurant and a salon. It’s the former site of Cheung’s Market, which has been torn down.
It seems very little can be done to stop the proposal from going ahead – a development permit was issued in July for a one-storey, 3,032-square-foot commercial building for a proposed retail store at 6021 168 Street. And on Oct. 23, proponent Samuel Chan of Ionic Architecture Inc., applied for a building permit for a 7-Eleven.
According to a representative of the proponents, the public hearing took place three years ago, when the development permit application was submitted. He was surprised to learn of the petition bcause there was no public opposition to a 7-Eleven at the time.
He couldn’t say when construction will break ground.
Meanwhile, public safety and the well-being of minors are among the top concerns for the petition signers rallying behind their popular mom-and-pop shop.
“We don’t need a 7-Eleven here,” said Tynice MacDougall, a regular Five Corner customer who had already signed.
The petition says there is already a full service convenience store called Five Corner Convenience that “more than adequately provides required goods and services of the immediate, local and surrounding neighbourhood.”
It also states that another local 7-Eleven, located at 17638 60 Avenue, has a “high level of robberies, drug dealing and other criminal activity and not conducive to a residential development” and notes the property is within 600 metres of Surrey Centre Elementary School.
Resident Jacqueline Davison wasted no time in signing her name as she paid for purchases during a recent after school visit with her two grandchildren, Kacie, 4, and Damien, 10.
Davison objects to a 7-Eleven coming into her neighbourhood because it’s more of a big box retailer. She fears it will change the unique character and sense of heritage in the neighbourhood.
“This is the best store. Have you tried the Screamers? You have to try their Screamers,” she said, explaining Screamers are a colourful frozen slush ice confection topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
The Gills opened their store eight years ago in August.
“They’re all little businesses” in the neighbourhood, Ramandeep said. “It’s so hard for people to get jobs nowadays and for people starting their own businesses.”