The community itself is beautiful; wartime houses from both WWI and WWII dot the hills here with mature maple, oak and lilac trees growing along the sidewalks. There is an influx of younger folks moving in as the older residents pass away or move into old age homes. Schools are close to. Homes are being refurbished, renovated and updated. Empty lots are fast developing into newer homes designed in character with the older existing ones. It’s lovely.
Yet, the local Sobey’s grocery store closed on January 3rd, 2009 opting to close it smallest location. The closest grocery store lies 3 KM away. A petition circulated to keep it open, spawned on by the thousands of old age residents of the Loch Lomand Villa. It fell on deaf ears. What happened to the Loch Lomand Mall should never have happened. It is a giant call center, home to Irving and Sitel, a Tim Hortens, a licensed Pool Hall and restaurant, convenience store, Hair Salon and a bank.
In the seventies this small mall housed a liquor store, a drug store, grocery store, pet shop, card store, pizza place, arcade, coffee shop, numerous clothing stores, two hair salons and a major department store. By the end of the eighties the liquor store closed moving down to Parkway Mall which has also seen better days. Parkway is fast becoming second hand, bargain shop central which is a good thing as it does meet the need to recycle unwanted items via the Salvation Army and Value Village hence, giving discarded items a new lease on life. The city theatres used to be there, Zellers and umpteem other retail stores. Now office supply stores, dollar stores, a gym and a mattress warehouses exist there. Parkway is only accessible by bus or vehicle.
They call this progress
I call it dehumanizing. They’ve taken away this communities amenities. And it’s happened all over this city. The only area that is livable for people who want to walk is the Uptown core. All other shops, stores, department stores, grocery stores are only accessible by bus, car or truck. It’s disgusting! Or you must prep yourself for a half hour to an hour long journey there and then the same back if you do wish to walk.
Saint John is a city of small communities; Lower West, Upper West, North End, Main Street, South End, Uptown and the East Side. Each community had grocery markets, shops and other services within walking distance of it’s residents. I remember this from when I was a little girl. Now, it’s a sprawling metropolitan area with not enough population base to support the current infrastructure. They are setting up this city like it has population of one million and it doesn’t. We have at best 150,000 residents.
I look forward to living uptown surrounded by art galleries, shops, markets, brick and water. This is the first time in over 30 years that I can’t walk to get to where I need to go. And believe me I was walking during the warmer months to the uptown core, the post office and the Superstore.
Part of me feels trapped inside a momentary loop. At least I live 5KM from most amenities and not in the ‘burbs. I’m aiming to bring that distance down to 500M later this year. And as cityscapes do tend to evolve over time I expect that a resurgence of smaller Mom & Pop shops will exist once again within the communities of Saint John.