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Bureau to consider Sapperton concerns in deciding Thrifty’s fate

New Westminster Coun. Lorrie Williams -
New Westminster Coun. Lorrie Williams
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Canada’s Competition Bureau has told New Westminster it will take into consideration concerns raised by Sapperton residents worried about losing their supermarket.

When approving the sale of Canada Safeway to Sobeys last year, the bureau ordered Sobeys to sell 23 of its stores across Western Canada including Thrifty Foods in Sapperton because there are three Safeway stores in New Westminster.

The decision caused an uproar in the neighbourhood. Residents who feared they would lose a large grocery store that only arrived a couple of years ago organized a writing campaign and a petition.

City council also fired off a letter outlining its concerns.

“An acceptable buyer must have both the ability and incentive to compete, so that competition will be preserved in the relevant market. The Bureau will take the concerns raised by New Westminster residents into consideration in determining an acceptable buyer of the Sapperton Thrifty Foods,” said the bureau’s response to council.

While in Ottawa on Federation of Canadian Municipalities business, Coun. Lorrie Williams took the petition calling for the Thrifty Foods store to be maintained and kept open, to the bureau’s headquarters.

During an hour-long meeting, Williams said she was told if Sobeys can’t find a buyer then it will go to an independent seller.

If that doesn’t work, then the bureau would go back to the negotiating table with Sobeys, which Williams said gave her a glimmer of hope the grocer would be forced to sell another Safeway outlet instead.

The bureau would not provide a timeframe for how long the process would take.

However, Coun. Chuck Puchmayr said the bureau made the right call and the city should stay out of the process.

“I don’t think we should be pitting neighbourhood against neighbourhood.”

Williams, a Sapperton resident, said the bureau was impressed with the attention and response the ordered sale received.

“They had never before received that much attention for just one store. I was proud of that.”

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