The once busy 7-Eleven on Dewdney Avenue now sits vacant, its windows and doors boarded up, after it closed nearly two weeks ago.
“When you’re talking about something that’s open 24/7, that’s pretty accessible for people,” Murray Giesbrecht, executive director of the North Central Community Association, said.
It was one of the few remaining places for residents in North Central to access food. The area has been without a major grocery store since 2000, when the Superstore on Dewdney Avenue and Albert Street shut its doors.
“We’re looking at about 11,000 people who live here and a lot of people don’t always realize how large this community is,” Giesbrecht said.
Without a grocery store many residents say what should be a simple trek usually takes hours and in the winter it’s even worse.
“We have to hire vehicles or get a taxi or walk,” North Central resident, Audrey Goforth said. “Usually it’s walking because none of us really have the income to venture out.”
“It makes it very hard to walk around and stuff because you have to go way down over by Sherwood Drive just to get to the Safeway,” another North Central resident, Anthony Taylor said.
In a statement to Global News, Rob Court, director of land and real estate management for the city said,
“The Taylor Field Neighbourhood is envisioned to be a new mixed-use community within walking distance of Mosaic Stadium, the redeveloped railyard site and downtown. When long-term planning for the Taylor Field Neighbourhood begins a grocery store likely will be considered. A grocery store will likely be part of the plans for the Railyard Renewal Project which is further along in the planning process than the Taylor Field Neighbourhood.”
But Giesbrecht says a central location would not only provide an anchor for the community it would provide jobs as well.
“The ability to live and work in the same area would certainly limit a lot of barriers for people and provide a lot of stability as well,” he explained.
For now, residents rely on four gardens set up by the community association to access fresh produce.