Grocery store desired for downtown Summerside

·2 min read

City councillors here are hoping for a business to bring a grocery store back to Summerside's downtown.

Deputy mayor Norma McColeman and Mayor Basil Stewart took a walk down Water Street recently to chat about the possibilities.

“I learned a long time ago, you gotta make things happen,” said Mayor Basil Stewart. “I’m always a believer in trying to make things happen.”

His priority has been to provide development opportunities, he said.

“I mean, you can have all the fancy sidewalks and all those things, but you need people. When you have people, then you’ll draw business, and fill up some of these vacant spots.”

tewart said the people are asking for a smaller, general grocery store within walking distance of work and homes.

The downtown area used to have several grocery stores in the 1950s and 60, but that number dwindled until now there are none.

A Foodland location in the Holland College Waterfront Campus building on Water Street, closed in July 2018.

Cynthia Thompson, a public relations representative from Sobeys spoke to the Journal Pioneer at the time.

"These decisions are not taken lightly. In this case, after an extensive review, we've decided to close the location," said Thompson.

The chain reviewed the Foodland location and assessed traffic to the location, the market and how best to serve customers and well as other factors, she said.

However, Stewart notes new residential developments have begun since then.

He’s hoping apartments coming to the downtown will make the area more attractive for a grocery store.

Deputy Mayor McColeman said while people like the big box stores uptown, there’s a movement toward knowing your grocer again.

“They want to know where their food comes from,” she said.

McColeman said the city does not want to compete with box stores, but council is trying to adapt and revitalize the downtown by replacing services that were there when it was really busy.

“Downtowns are where (people) see the arts and the culture, the festivals, all of the themes that come out in different seasons,” said McColeman. “The two things we heard really a lot from people last municipal election was housing and certainly the loss of the downtown grocery store.”

Alison Jenkins, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Journal-Pioneer