Published January 10, 2024

The 1019 Report

The news that Walmart Canada has decided to pull out of its plan to operate a $100-million fulfillment centre in Vaudreuil-Dorion – a facility touted to be “the first of its kind” in Quebec for the retail giant when it was announced in the fall of 2022 – has been widely reported in the past few weeks. But the reasons for the decision continue to be the subject of several unanswered questions.

“I was surprised for sure,” said Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon last week.

Pilon has not received any confirmation as to why the retailer abruptly pulled out of the project in late December. He speculated that it could simply be a case of a corporate shakeup at Walmart Canada that prompted the change in plans.

“This is what I think,” Pilon said, but later added he did not speak to anyone at Walmart.

In an email statement to The 1019 Report, Walmart Canada spokesperson Sarah Kennedy, senior director for internal and external communications, confirmed the company plans to sub-lease the facility.

“(Walmart) made the decision to sub-lease the previously-announced Vaudreuil-Dorion facility because we believe we can better serve and fulfill online orders for our Quebec customers by accelerating upgrades to our existing network, including our Quebec stores,” Kennedy said.

She refused to answer any other questions about the lease.

See WALMART, Page 4.

WALMART: Traffic caused by bridge chaos not a factor, retailer says

From Page 1

Pilon said he had previously been informed that Walmart had a 15-year lease with renewal options on the facility – a sprawling building with about 70 truck loading bays, making it one of the largest logistical hubs in the region.

When pressed about whether traffic chaos in the region caused by work on the Île aux Tourtes Bridge played a role in the decision to back out of the shipping hub it planned to open later this year, Kennedy said: “I can tell you that traffic was not a factor in this decision at all.”

Contacted earlier this week, a spokesperson for Chris and Tyler Harden, co-CEOs of the Harden Group, the owners of new industrial park near the junction of Harwood and Henry Ford roads in Vaudreuil-Dorion where the Walmart facility is located, said the company would not comment on Walmart’s decision.

A spokesperson for DEV Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the regional business development agency, confirmed a subletter is being sought.

In an interview Monday, Guy Boyer, the director of territorial development and industrial commission with DEV Vaudreuil-Soulanges, said he is hoping to meet with Walmart representatives as well as officials with the Harden Group to discuss the situation later this week.

Boyer, too, admits he was surprised to hear of Walmart’s abrupt change of plans, adding, however, that he does not believe it will be too difficult to find a new tenant.

Adding to the list of officials who were surprised by the news is Vaudreuil MNA Marie-Claude Nichols. In an interview earlier this week, she said she had worked closely with officials with the Harden Group to obtain the needed ministerial approval for Hydro-Québec hookups for the facility in the first half of 2023. According to Nichols, the CAQ government passed a law earlier in 2023 that required large projects that required more than 50 megawatts of power to obtain government approval before Hydro could provide services. Nichols said she was solicited to help obtain the approvals, which were subsequently granted.

Walmart’s change of plans, she added “was a surprise for me.”

CAQ MNA Marilyne Picard was not available for comment.

Kennedy said Walmart plans to invest about $100 million to upgrade eight stores in the province “by the end of our next fiscal year,” but ignored questions inquiring about which stores the company will focus on.

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