As Sudbury's new arena and event centre begin to take shape, the city is holding public consultation sessions to get feedback on the Kingsway Entertainment District site plan. But some people are concerned that the process is being rushed.
After city council reviewed the site plans on Tuesday, the city announced that 16 open houses would be held around Sudbury from November 3 to November 6. Public feedback will also be accepted online until Tuesday, November 7 at 4:30 p.m.
Andre Dumais opposed the Kingsway location, and worries that the short timeline for the public consultation will discourage people from giving critical feedback.
"There's really zero opportunity for people to get a sense of what the issues are, what's going on, and then provide that input," Dumais says.
"The city is on a mission to drive this through, come hell or high water, and they don't want any dissent."
Open houses important for people to have their say
Rachelle Niemela attended the open house at the New Sudbury Public Library on Friday, and says she was excited to have her say on the site plans.
"I was coming here to have an opportunity to talk with some of the people who were here to get a bit more clarification on some of the things that they're proposing."
Niemela is chair of both the Ward 8 Community Action Network and the Sudbury Cyclists Union, and was interested in how the site would address different transportation needs, as well as green infrastructure.
She had the opportunity to talk with developer Dario Zulich and city staff at the open house, and says she was happy to have a conversation about her thoughts and concerns.
"Certainly I was impressed with the willingness to talk about some of the things, like how we can really enhance active transportation, how can we apply low-impact development to the site, how we can incorporate green spaces and amenities that are more friendly to the environment."
But Niemela says she would've liked to have more time to plan for the public consultation.
"It would've been nice to have a little bit more lead time, but on the positive side they are holding a lot of these different sessions," she says.
'We don't want to curtail thoughts'
David Shelsted, the project manager for the Kingsway Entertainment District, says the recent open houses are just the latest phase of public consultation.
"In late September, we came out to the community and we asked them a few questions," he says.
"From that consultation, we put together the comments that we had and we've identified this site plan that shows building locations, some programming for the space and we want to hear from the citizens. Did we get it right?"
Shelsted says the team designed an open-ended question for this round of consultations, so that people would be encouraged to share their thoughts.
"If you look at the question it says, 'are you excited for the future?' It also says, 'share your thoughts. So it's opened-ended, and that's what we wanted to hear," he says.
"We don't want to curtail thoughts. We want to hear what people think about the whole site."