Sudbury City Hall

Despite 'tremendous damage' to downtown, Sudbury city council greenlights business group's budget

Sudbury’s Downtown Business Association will continue to fight the development of the Kingsway Entertainment District, and despite concerns from city council, will be able to use its city-approved budget to do so.

‘Downtown belongs to the city, not the BIA’ says Coun. Lynne Reynolds

Sudbury's downtown Business Improvement Area can move ahead with its appeal of the Kingsway entertainment district after it received preliminary approval of its 2018 budget from the city's finance committee. (Yvon Theriault/CBC)

Sudbury's Downtown Business Association will continue to fight the development of the Kingsway Entertainment District, and despite concerns from city council, will be able to use its city-approved budget to do so.

City staff originally recommended that $20,000 of the BIA's 2018 budget of $534,000 dollars be clawed back. The $20,000 had been earmarked to fund an appeal of the Kingsway casino and arena zoning to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).

Some, like the city's Chief Administrative Officer Ed Archer and Coun. Robert Kirwan, said the BIA was stepping outside its mandate by filing the appeal, and using its members' money to do so.

"What is being done is contrary to the bylaw," Kirwan said. "For council to approve...we might as well say people can park without putting money in meters, despite that's what our bylaws say."

But the law, as set out in both the city's bylaws and the Municipal Act, isn't entirely clear on whether BIAs or other organizations can file appeals against the city they operate under.

A BIA's mandate, defined by the province's Municipal Act of 2001, states the role of the BIA is:

  • To oversee the improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally owned land, buildings and structures in the area beyond that provided at the expense of the Municipality generally, and to promote the area as a business or shopping area.

Motion to redefine Downtown BIA on its way, says Kirwan

Kirwan said in an upcoming meeting, he also plans to put forth a motion to dissolve the group or at least rewrite the bylaw governing BIAs in the city, allowing them to pursue any appeals without contravening municipal bylaws.

"I'm not saying [the BIA] shouldn't be spending their money the way they want to spend their money," Kirwan said.

Councillor Robert Kirwan says Sudbury's Downtown BIA is overstepping its mandate by appealing the city's decision to develop the Kingsway Entertainment District. (Casey Stranges/CBC)

Coun. Lynne Reynolds said that the city should review not only the BIA's budget, but the rules governing the organization itself.

"The BIA has done a tremendous amount of damage to downtown," she said.

"Downtown doesn't belong to the BIA. It's downtown for the whole city."

"They're mandated to keep it safe and clean, and to promote their own business. They have no mandate to go into another neighbourhood and debate our decisions as a council."

Ward 10 city councillor Fern Cormier says it may be time to review laws governing city BIAs, written in the 1970s. (Yvon Theriault/Radio-Canada)

But Coun. Fern Cormier cautioned his fellow councillors against making any heated decisions that could affect the BIA.

"We can't look at this through the lens of the way we want the rules to be," Cormier said. "We have to be judicious and view it through the lens of the way the rules are."

"We may not like the rules we have to play by, but as long as they are the rules, they are the ones to play by."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.