Tsawwassen Mills shopping mall had its official opening Wednesday, October 5. This is a shopping centre of truly gigantic proportions situated on Tsawwassen First Nation land in Delta near the ferry terminal.
Described by some as “alarmingly big”, this mega-mall is over 1 million square feet in size and composed of not one but 16 anchor tenants and hundreds of smaller retail outlets. The parking lot alone is big enough for 6,000 vehicles — all of it on first-class agricultural land that lies below sea level in the middle of the Pacific Flyway, an important migration route used by millions of birds.
The economic viability and long-term sustainability of First Nations are goals we should all get behind. But I have to ask — is the construction of mega-malls the way to go?
True environmental sustainability will only ever be achieved when we all reduce our consumption. We need to be consuming less, not more. When an economy is built on the notion that we must keep increasing output by getting people to buy what they don’t need with money they don’t have (namely, credit cards), we’re embracing a model of economic development that is truly unsustainable and certainly not viable in the long term.
I do not fault any First Nation for one minute for their well-intended efforts to provide desperately needed jobs for their members and income for their band. However, when they’re forced to turn to “solutions” such as gambling casinos, mega-malls and electronic billboards we are all diminished.
The opening of the Tsawwassen Mills mall is a negative reflection not on the Tsawwassen First Nation but on Canadian society for putting them in a position where a mega-mall was the best option available.