Sudbury city council to take second look at building new arena downtown
City staff to layout framework for arena report in February and deliver report sometime in the spring
Sudbury city council will consider other sites for a new $100 million dollar arena as it re-evaluates the Kingsway Entertainment District.
This includes the downtown parking lots off Minto and Shaughnesy Streets that lost out to the Kingsway location in a council vote three and a half years ago.
City staff say they will also study the possibility of renovating the existing downtown arena, which turns 70 this year.
This came as a shock during Wednesday night's virtual meeting to city councillors who had supported the Kingsway project through years of costly legal battles.
"It's almost as if we're going to be dealing with the arena again," said city councillor Robert Kirwan.
"You can't open the whole thing up again after we've gone through LPAT and the superior court. I can't believe what I just heard tonight."
Mayor Brian Bigger asked for the report during last week's council meeting and also asked for the entire city to take a pause on the arena debate until it comes before council sometime this spring.
"I do believe it's important for council to understand what is the factual information and put it all in one place," he said.
"What is factual? What are the knowns and unknowns? What are the risks?"
"What you basically said tonight is 'We're looking for a report from staff so council can decide where to put the arena,'" replied Kirwan.
"We have a site. It's on the Kingsway."
There have been questions about how committed Gateway Casinos is to building on a new gambling complex on the Kingsway lands considering some of its financial struggles.
Councillors also say they have yet to hear details of the proposed hotel and are wondering about the general impact of COVID-19 on the entertainment business in the years to come.
"I think the community does understand and we all understand the need to move forward, but I think what we're also hearing from the community is they want us to take another look," city councillor Deb McIntosh.
"Because we can. We have that option right now."
City councillor Geoff McCausland agreed it was a good idea to make sure what is thought to be the largest municipal project in the city's history is done right.
"I don't think there's anything to fear," he told council.
"If we go through this process and the Kingsway is still by and large the best choice, the best option, then it should be able to stand up on its own two feet."
City councillor Bill Leduc wanted to make sure the staff report, a framework for which will be presented to council next month, explains "our legal obligations to the Kingsway Entertainment District and what kind of lawsuits we could be facing."
He also said if the mayor and council are focused on "what the public wants" he believes many Sudburians feel "we don't need a library, we don't need an art gallery" and would rather see the $200 million being borrowed for these major projects spent on roads and sewer pipes.
To date, $2.6 million has been spent on the new arena and the Kingsway Entertainment District.
The city has spent $1.2 million on plans for an art gallery, library and convention centre, part of which is to be built on the same downtown parking lots city staff are now re-considering for an arena.