By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to the Toronto Sun
The first shopping mall to be built in Canada in 14 years, Vaughan Mills has become an employment boon to the local community.
The food court will be the hub of activity at Vaughan Mills. The 1,000-seat food court will feature familiar outlets as well as outlets that are new to Canada.
"Vaughan is one of the fastest growing communities in Canada, and with an above average household income of $110,000; this is certainly an area that is enthusiastic about great shopping opportunities," says Carol Hyams, general manager of Vaughan Mills.
A collaboration between leading Canadian real estate company Ivanhoe Cambridge, and major U.S.-based real estate investment trust The Mills Corporation, Vaughan Mills will feature a Discover Ontario design that will reflect provincial icons and heritage.
New to Canada
The shopping, entertainment and leisure destination, as it's being marketed, will feature more than 200 stores, restaurants and entertainment venues, including 16 anchor tenants, many of which are new to Canada, such as Burlington Coat Factory and Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, as well as NASCAR SpeedPark, Lucky Strikes Lanes and the largest Tommy Hilfiger outlet in the world.
The mall has already generated more than 2,500 jobs since construction began in June 2003. Drywallers, painters, glaziers, tillers, labourers, roofers, asphalters, landscapers, sheetmetal workers and more have been at work preparing the 1.2 million-sq.-ft. facility for its Nov. 4 launch.
To complete the second round of hiring, Vaughan Mills held a two-day career fair on Sept. 23 and 24 that received a record-setting 5,000 attendees (the previous attendance record for a Mills job fair was 4,200).
"I believe the career fair we held in September is a good gauge of how interested people in the area are in working at Vaughan Mills," Hyams says.
Once open, the mall will employ about 3,500 people, primarily full and part-time sales associates, but also merchandisers, managers, assistant managers, human resources personnel, cooks, cleaners and shippers/receivers.
"There will also be opportunities for students to take advantage of seasonal work when they are typically off school," Hyams says.
The mall has also forged an agreement with Ryerson University, whereby a third or fourth-year student registered in the school's four-year bachelor of commerce in retail management program will spend three to four months interning at one of the retailers.
"They indicated they were interested in doing an internship, and we were certainly interested in working on that," says Elizabeth Evans, director of the Ryerson School of Retail Management. "We're always looking for exciting and great opportunities for our students to get retail experience while they're here."
The students will be involved in choosing a store that most interests them, and will begin interning next spring as a manager-in-training. Over time, more students will have a chance to participate in the program.
"We're always looking for an opportunity where students can get real experience in the field of retail that they're interested in. It's another way of understanding and learning what the industry and the career is all about. It will give them the skill sets and knowledge that the industry is looking for," Evans says.
Frank Miele, commissioner of economic and technology development and corporate communication for the City of Vaughan, has been working closely with the developers to help facilitate the project. He says that not only will the mall add about $12.5 million in taxes to the local economy annually, it will also create a healthy, stable workforce in the burgeoning community of Vaughan.
"It's a great opportunity for kids in the community -- instead of hanging around the mall and causing mischief, they'll have a place to go and work. It will also enable a mother to more easily re-enter the workforce if the family wants to move in that direction," Miele says. "The mall is not just a working environment where there are jobs; it's a psychological and social stability opportunity for our society, our community and our residents."
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