Flavio NienowLake District News, Burns Lake
Loblaw’s Super Valu, the only grocery store in Fraser Lake, will close on June 18, 2016.
After the closure, the closest places to buy groceries will be Vanderhoof, which is 58 km away from Fraser Lake, or Burns Lake, which is 70 km away.
“It’s going to be a big hit,” said Fraser Lake Mayor Dwayne Lindstrom. “Especially for our seniors.”
Lindstrom said Fraser Lake has well over 100 seniors and that many of them don’t drive.
Super Valu is owned by Loblaw.
Although Fraser Lake will still have a Fields store, Dwayne said Fields doesn’t carry the types of food and products that Super Valu does.
Since Fraser Lake does not own the building where Super Valu is currently located, the village does not have much of a say on what the building will be turned into.
“Our hands are tied,” said Lindstrom. “There are no other buildings in Fraser Lake that could be [turned into] grocery stores.”
Lindstrom said the best strategy for the village right now is to work with the owner of the building.
“All I can say is that the person who owns the building owns quite a few buildings across the province, and he’s working really hard to find a new option.”
However, Lindstrom points out that the solution is probably not going to happen overnight.
Meanwhile the Fraser Lake council is considering short-term solutions to ensure residents have access to groceries come June 18.
One of the proposed solutions is to have a “grocery truck” coming into town three times a week. The truck would pick up groceries from nearby grocery stores and bring them to Fraser Lake residents.
“It’s certainly something that we have to look at,” said Lindstrom.
He added that having locals driving for groceries in the winter time could become a safety issue.
Fraser Lake resident Michelle Baker Lapointe told Black Press that her “little town is in shock.”
“Now we have to travel to pick up basics and necessities,” she said.
“The prices at the store [Super Valu] are high in comparison at times than Vanderhoof and Burns Lake, so it is no surprise people may shop out of town anyways; but the hardest hit will be the elders and ones without a vehicle.”
Kane Casimel, a janitorial worker for Super Valu, is one of the approximately 14 people who will be laid off on June 16.
For Casimel, the habit of shopping out of town is one of the reasons for the closure.
“Shame on you [Fraser Lake residents] for not supporting local businesses,” he said. “You’re not saving money by travelling 45 minutes out to buy food.”