Fearing the construction of a big-box retail development in the Kensington Market neighbourhood, concerned Torontonians are mobilizing to block the proposal before it gets off the ground.

RioCan, Canada’s largest real estate investment trust, has submitted plans to the city for the construction of a 3-storey shopping mall at Bathurst and College Streets.

If approved, the complex would hold a 2-storey Walmart with an underground parking lot big enough to accommodate approximately 320 cars.

Last week Toronto resident Dominique Russell started an online petition, addressed to Counc. Mike Layton and community planner Liora Freedman. It had attracted more than 35, 000 signatures by Tuesday.

“I have a big concern about the city allowing these chains and getting rid of independent stores that give each neighbourhood its flavour,” Russell told CTV Toronto.

The proposal has residents worried that it could close stores and change the feel of the neighbourhood.

“We only buy a few cases, they buy containers. I can’t compete with them,” said Cecilia Espinosa, a business owner and resident of the neighbourhood.

A statement released by Walmart says, “It goes without saying that everyone has the right to voice their views and we will continue to listen closely.”

The application proposes to demolish four existing properties: the site of Kromer Radio, a parking lot, the Sunnyside Auto Body shop, and the SESCO electrical supply building.

The Ontario Municipal Board has already rejected the proposal once before, but RioCan is pushing ahead.

A community consultation meeting will be held by the City of Toronto at 454 College Street on Thursday.

With a report from CTV Toronto’s Zuraidah Alman