The final decision on whether development goes ahead or not in Greater Sudbury is frequently being made by the province these days — a sign that construction progress in the city has become fraught with complications.
Sudbury’s council has faced some tough decisions with controversial subdivisions pitting residents against developers, who in turn are frustrated that councillors too often side with the public.
Sudbury city councillor Dave Kilgour has had a good view of the battles from his seat as chair of the city's planning committee. He noted demand for housing and a push to develop bush land in the city — as opposed to empty fields on the outskirts of town — has lead to the strife.
"[It’s] definitely more controversial at the stage we're at now," he said. "We need more housing, there's no two ways about it."
But Naomi Grant from the Coalition from a Liveable Sudbury said she thinks the planning committee conflicts are part of a larger trend.
"People are really involved in seeing the vision for their community," she said.
"They're really letting their municipal government know more about what matters to them."
Public outcry over development can be frustrating to builders. A Sudbury Home Builders Association spokesperson said some members are now talking about doing business in other cities.
Laura Higgs noted the struggle to build in Sudbury prompts some developers to say, "‘Well … I just got a phone call from the city of Timmins and they want me to go build up there and maybe I will’," she said.
"[It goes] back to the whole statement of — are we open for business or are we not open for business?"
Nine of the controversial decisions made by city council last year have all been appealed to the Ontario Municipal Board, which will give the final yes or no.