Wal-Mart is coming to town. Oh sure there's a public meeting this Tuesday, where we can once again listen to the endless debate with countless factual claims that Wal-Mart destroys communities vs. people who have long ago sold their social conscious for convenient shopping opportunities. With a perceived complete absence of the political will needed to stop this giant, I fear the cynic in me is loudly screaming, this whole proceeding is a sham.
We need shopping in our community but I hesitate to say we need Wal-Mart. Perhaps my biggest beef with Wal-Mart is that they're the new breed of government subsidized company. That's right, like it or not we're already paying taxes so that Wal-Mart can get away with sub-standard employee wages and benefits. A new study has shown that because Wal-Mart doesn't pay enough for people to live, millions of tax dollars go to assist Wal-Mart employees in their quest to eat more than once a day.
But if you're not still not convinced of Wal-Mart's shady record, chances are you never will be. It's this "my mind's made up don't confuse me with facts" attitude that has me fearing the worst. After all, many in our community believe that Squamish is simply too politically weak willed to stand up to a company like Wal-Mart. So why would they even bother showing up, it's a done deal.
If that's the case and Wal-Mart has in fact already bought our cheap little town I would like to add what I believe to be 3 reasonable conditions.
Condition the first: Have a planted green roof to absorb water runoff. A roof garden is the hip new idea that is really a progressive no-brainer.
Condition the second: It will be unionized. That's right, do your home work and you'll find that not only did we already close down Sann (department store) for offering sub par working conditions, but Squamish is also the proud home of the first ever unionized McDonalds. It still astonishes me that we unionized a place with their employee turnover.
And last but certainly not least, force them to give back to the community through increased taxation. Implement a big box tax, or even a highway business tax, making them give Squamish more than just poverty line employment. Imagine the community support if a percent of their astronomical profits went directly into the countless community projects.
But for now an air of uncertainty continues to linger as this Tuesday we are presented one last opportunity to say our piece. However, all public meetings really tell you is the opinion of people who had the evening off with enough spare time to listen to people debate Wal-Mart all night. Leaving it once again squarely on the shoulders of our mayor and council who were elected on a progressive pro-downtown campaign. I only hope that in the end council remembers that they were elected to do the right thing, not the easy thing.