Sudbury·Audio

Downtown Sudbury group wants to scrap transit hub in favour of development

Sudbury's downtown association would like to see the city scrap its transit terminal and make the land available for development, while investing more in the bus system across the city.
The Downtown Sudbury association would like to see the city demolish the transit terminal it built in 1997 and make the prime downtown lot available for development. (Erik White/CBC)
Sudbury's downtown association says the downtown would be better off without the transit terminal. Not everyone agrees. CBC reporter Erik White looked into it. 6:38
Sudbury's downtown association would like to see the city scrap its transit terminal and make the land available for development, while investing more in the bus system across the city.
Chair Jeff MacIntyre said business owners don't see the terminal adding much to the downtown.
Downtown business owners like Jeff MacIntyre want the parking spots to increase foot traffic. (CBC)

"I see something that could be a lot more," he said.

His group is pushing the city to demolish the bus station and make the land available for development, possibly some kind of private commercial venture or the location for one of the numerous projects envisioned in the downtown master plan, including a new art gallery or Place Des Arts performing arts centre.

"You look at where it's located. It's the highest traffic location in the city," said MacIntyre.

But MacIntyre said getting rid of the terminal would also free up city tax dollars to invest elsewhere in the transit system.

"Really strong transit, means a really good downtown and having this transit terminal means less buses that we can have on the road, less bus drivers we can have driving buses."

MacIntyre says the downtown association is hoping the question of the bus terminal will be addressed in the upcoming transit master plan, reviewing how well the system serves Sudbury.

Paris Park?

Before the transit terminal was built, the site bordered by Elm, Paris and Cedar Streets was home to a Canadian Tire store.

When it was set to close in the early 1990s, there was a pitch to develop the lot called Paris Park, a multi-storey complex including offices, condominiums and a new home for the main branch of the public library.

The Paris Park development featuring offices, condominiums and a new home for the main branch of the Sudbury public library was proposed for the old Canadian Tire site downtown in the early 1990s. (Erik White/CBC )

But after initially supporting the idea, city council got cold feet about the costs involved and instead spent about $5 million to build a transit terminal and then selling the remaining land for the LCBO and Tim Hortons.

Charles Tossell, a long-time transit rider and member of Friends of Sudbury Transit, has bad memories of waiting in the cold in the days before the terminal was built in 1997, when buses used to line up on downtown streets.

"I'm against having the terminal gone only because during winter, it's like a shelter for us," he said.

But Tossell is looking forward to a city-wide discussion on the future of the bus system expected when the city draws up its transit master plan, a process that's expected to start later this year.

Mayor Brian Bigger said he is interested in the idea of moving the terminal, but has yet to make up his mind. Although, he did mention it in his state of the city address in June.

"My vision includes transit hubs to some of the issues we face downtown," Bigger said. 

"And what would happen if we looked at new options for the transit terminal?"

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