From Wawa to Wembley, Ward Cooper’s journey to open a Canadian Tire store in Parksville has been a long one.
If the 200 people lined up outside the store before the official grand opening on Thursday morning is any indication, after 15 years of talk about the iconic national brand opening a branch here, the people of Parksville Qualicum Beach seem happy to see the doors finally open.
Cooper and his wife Janet are the owners/operators of the new store in Wembley Mall. It’s a 27,000 square-foot space where Save-On-Foods used to operate before opening its new store a stone’s throw away in the mall parking lot.
The Coopers have relocated their family to Parksville from Wawa, Ont. where they also owned a Canadian Tire store.
“I want to thank the people of Parksville for supporting us and I’m looking forward to the future,” Cooper said before cutting the ribbon to officially open the store on Thursday. “It’s an outstanding community. Everyone is so friendly. I’m just ecstatic.”
Ward Cooper began working at Canadian Tire stores in 1981. Now he owns a store that employs 50 people. He has been working for months to open this store, which includes a full auto mechanic shop.
“It’ s been a lot of hard work by the whole team to renovate,” he said.
Jeff Smith, Canadian Tire’s regional vice-president for dealer and store operations, came from Winnipeg for the grand opening.
“We’re super excited to be in Parksville,” said Smith. “This store has been 15 years in the making.”
Mayor Marc Lefebvre was on hand for the ribbon cutting.
“The question I’ve been asked the most in the last year was ‘when is Canadian Tire coming’,” said Lefebvre. “I think this is terrific. It’s going to keep people shopping local, which is really important.”
There has been a transformation of the Wembley Mall footprint in the past six months with the opening of Save-On-Foods, a new B.C. Liquor Store, a Red Apple bargain store and now Canadian Tire.
“I think it (the opening of Canadian Tire) will have a ripple effect,” said Lefebvre. “I think it will do well for Wembley Mall.”
The new Canadian Tire’s official address is 822 Island Highway and the phone number is 250-248-1085. The store (including auto shop) is open from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. Monday-Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday and Friday,
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to
5 p.m. on Sunday.