Tofino Co-op wanted to bring a new pharmacy department to the food store in the summer of 2019, but some of its members have expressed a difference of opinion.
Longtime Tofino Co-op member Margaret Eady attended the annual general meeting in May of last year. She said there was no mention of pharmacy plans at that meeting.
It wasn’t until a notice appeared in the Jan. 16, 2019 edition of the Westerly News, that Eady got wind of the pharmacy plans.
Not in favour of the proposed pharmacy, Eady along with other Co-op members, started a petition calling for signatures from members opposed to the project.
“Right now, with two pharmacies in town, I don’t think it’s good,” she said.
According to Eady, more than 700 members signed the petition since it was launched in mid-February. As of Jan. 31, 2018, Tofino Co-op had 3,414 members, according to HR manager Chelsea Bauer.
“A lot of people had different ideas for the Co-op and were quite annoyed that the pharmacy was going to take space that was needed for other things,” said Eady, a Tofino Co-op member for approximately 40 years.
Bulk food, improved organic section and an extra till were just some suggestions Eady said people wanted instead of the pharmacy. She said the signatures collected were spread across the whole gamut.
“Lots of old-time members with low numbers right to up into the mid-7,000s now.”
While petitioning the community, Eady said some people she spoke with said they tried to get information from the Co-op board, and they were told that it was a “done deal” and that there was nothing the membership could do.
“With that kind of attitude, a lot of people where kind of cheesed off. We didn’t feel that the communication had gone properly. A lot of people had said to me when we were talking that that doesn’t feel like a co-operative kind of thing to do if it’s just sprung on people,” said Eady.
Hard copies of the petition were mailed to each member of the Tofino Co-op board, and the petition was formally presented to the Tofino Co-op board on March 15.
“I received a letter on March 19 from the president [of the Tofino Co-op] to say that they had a meeting and that they had shelved their plan for the pharmacy in the food store,” said Eady.
“I was very happy with the outcome. It feels like those members who oppose the idea, they were listened to. Getting 700 signatures largely by word of mouth, I think it’s pretty significant.”
Co-op member Lynda Shaw agreed.
“Thank you to the board for listening to the people that signed the petition,” said Shaw.
The Westerly reached out to Tofino Co-op board president Jim Striegel for an interview. He said he had “no comment.”