To the Editor,
Re: Store sparks debate over 24-hour opening, March 3.
The coverage of the replacement of the 7-Eleven store on Nicol Street is of interest to me as I headed up the opposition to the one now operating on Dover Road.
The same argument of having to shut down all the other stores in the area was used in the case of Dover Road and Departure Bay, but it wasn’t true, all the other businesses are still operating as they always did.
The issue about drugs and prostitutes was of concern both here and at Departure Bay, as well as the problems of noise, litter and teenagers hanging around after midnight.
I sat near each of the existing stores where I could observe what went on during the hours from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. and the results were very interesting.
At one store a prostitute was clearly observed approaching any car driven by a man, but she never approached a woman’s car.
At another store, a man was outside the store and approached people coming to it – he was selling drugs, which he kept in a container fastened to the collar of a large dog that he kept tied at the back of the store. How do I know that? An acquaintance, who lived in the area, was very knowledgeable about the practice.
The complaint by 7-Eleven about how much money it would lose was ludicrous. I made a note of every person who entered each store, how long they stayed and what they came out with.
In only one case did anyone leave with items in a bag, all the others were holding a cup of coffee, package of cigarettes or both. It was obvious the sales were not enough even to pay the wages of the clerk, so why all the fuss?
Discussions with an insurance specialist in Vancouver, who had also been involved with a dispute there, and with a retired policeman in Nanaimo, cleared that up.
Both people said the reason to stay open is that it is cheaper to pay the wages than the cost of insurance during the night. When this was raised at various meetings, attended by managers from 7-Eleven, including the large meeting at Beban Park, attended by the public and a large contingent of managers and employees who filled the front row, it was never denied.
So how has it worked out on Dover Road and Departure Bay? Just fine. There are no people hanging around after 11 p.m., no noise, and both stores are certainly not lacking business.
During the time of the opposition to the new stores, discussions were held with the police, who said they would be delighted to see a restriction of hours because of the problems they had with young people hanging around the existing stores, and with the litter they created. They also pointed out how the stores always seemed to be located near schools.
The residents near the stores on Dover Road and Departure Bay are pleased with the restricted hours and see those stores as good neighbours.
Stick to your guns, all of you in the Nicol Street area. There is no good reason you should not have what you want. Our politicians are elected by the residents of Nanaimo and are supposedly there to heed the needs of you, the voters and the majority.