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Debate over location of Sudbury's proposed events centre intensifies

Debate over the location of a proposed events centre in Sudbury, Ont., is already pitting proponents against each other, even though a decision will not be made any time soon.

City is hiring a consultant and asking staff to make a business case for the facility

Sudbury city council is spending $125,000 to hire a consultant who would study the market opportunity for a new events centre, and an additional $150,000 for staff to come up with a business case for the project. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

Debate over the location of a proposed events centre in Sudbury, Ont., is already pitting proponents against each other, even though a decision will not be made any time soon. 
    
So far, city council has heard proposals to build a new arena and entertainment complex on the Kingsway and in the south end. 

But there is also a push to replace the city's current arena with a new facility downtown.

"Redevelopment of the downtown is gaining momentum," Coun. Mark Signoretti said during a council meeting on Tuesday.

"If it is feasibly possible, a downtown events centre would be the icing on the cake." 

Some councillors for the outlying areas, though, are not sure that is a good idea. 

"We have 14 downtowns across the Greater City of Sudbury and I think we should be mindful to that and recognize that," Coun. Michael Vagnini said.

But proponents of a downtown centre argue a centralized location is a solution to fixing the city's age-old problem with urban sprawl.

Downtown events centre proponent, Christian Pelletier, said a centralized location could help fix Sudbury's age-old problem of urban sprawl. (Hilary Duff/CBC)

Christian Pelletier works at the downtown creative agency Studio 123 and organizes the summer music festival Up Here

"You wouldn't put the Air Canada Centre in Mississuaga, even though it's part of the Greater Toronto Area," Pelletier said.

"It just wouldn't make any sense."

Could downtown businesses close?

Businesses could close if the city's arena is moved from the urban core, according to chair of the association Downtown Sudbury, Jeff MacIntyre.

"Hotel and restaurant industry downtown relies a lot on the crowds that come before and after games. [Or] before and after concerts," MacIntyre said. 

Pelletier agreed.

"When I go see a show I want to be able to have a dinner before a show," he said. 

"I want to be able to have a few drinks and go check out the concert and go to an after-hours place afterwards."

Council needs to gather 'the facts'

Sudbury city council has agreed to spend $125,000 to hire a consultant who would study the market opportunity for such a facility, and an additional $150,000 for staff to come up with a business case for the project. 

It is likely that any decision about location will only be made after that. 

"We're not having a debate about location of anything at this point in time," Coun. Fern Cormier said. 

"This is about gathering the facts."

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