Businesses at Westmount Shopping Centre served end of tenancy notice

“Everybody who is working in this store, their positions are being terminated without cause, so we’re eligible for employment insurance but that’s about the only grace we have.”

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A slew of businesses on the east side of Westmount Shopping Centre at 111 Avenue and Groat Road have been served notices to end their tenancies.

Earlier in May, notices were served to stores in the southeast corner of the shopping centre, ranging from Entrance 1 near the Safeway grocery store to the Smitty’s restaurant down the hall, shutting all businesses within the space on one side of the hallway.

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The quiet corner of the mall is about to become much quieter as the businesses will have to vacate their locations by the end of the month. While some store owners are disappointed, they didn’t question the legitimacy of the notice, they just simply had no explanation as to why it was served.

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Now, one side of the hallway has stores showing two differing signs. The fortunate ones advertise a moving sale and a new location where prospective customers can find them after the move. The less fortunate stores just have closing sale signs. Ace Liquor was one of the latter, which store manager Adam Zeliger and his co-workers only found out about last week over the phone.

“The first time the notice was served, it was not served to the staff in this store,” he said, adding that the notice was instead directed to the Ace Liquor’s owners.

Zeliger said that he believes the former movie theatre on the second floor is to blame for the closure, which was also cited by other store owners as a potential cause.

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The theatre is perhaps one of the last remaining elements of the mall from its original premier status. According to the Westmount Community League’s website, the Westmount community became part of Edmonton in 1904. With service from the Edmonton streetcar reaching the community in 1911, it benefitted from an economic boom before the First World War.

What are your memories of Westmount Shopping Centre? Let us know in the comments.

A few decades later, Westmount Shopping Centre — originally Westmount Shopper’s Park — opened in 1955, which the community league said spurred other malls to crop up throughout the city, including West Edmonton Mall.

The theatre closed more than a decade ago when Halifax-based theatre company Empire Theatres shut its doors in February 2011. Since the theatre closed at Westmount, even its former operator closed, with Empire selling off the majority of its theatres across the country to Cineplex and Landmark.

Since then, the second-floor theatre space has been vacant and some issues have arisen.

Stores reported several leaks in their ceilings all along the stretch of businesses due to close, Zeliger said.

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“It’s been going on for years,” said Zeliger.

He pointed to spots along the entrance to the liquor store from the mall, drips in the back room and water leaking in a cooler.

Due to the closure, Ace Liquor will be closing its Westmount location and laying off Zeliger and his five coworkers.

“Everybody who is working in this store, their positions are being terminated without cause, so we’re eligible for employment insurance but that’s about the only grace we have,” said Zeliger.

The move was especially disappointing for Zeliger, who’d worked with the company in other locations for several years, which included personal risk at times.

“I was actually held up at gunpoint at one time at about one in morning,” he said of when he worked in a west end location.

Zeliger is thankful for the people he worked with and said he is looking forward for other opportunities.

The shopping centre’s building management, First Capital Realty, has not clarified the reason for the notices and had not responded to requests for comment by press time.

[email protected]

Twitter/X: @ZacharyDelaney

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