Kingsway Entertainment District delayed until late 2021

Completion of the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED), the controversial events centre and casino project on the city’s eastern outskirts, is expected to be pushed back to late 2021, or early 2022, staff involved with the project say.

Blasting, site preparation to halt until LPAT decision is made

The opening of the Kingsway Entertainment District will likely be pushed back until 2021 or early 2022, the city says. (Erik White/CBC)

Completion of the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED,) the controversial project on the city's eastern outskirts, is expected to be pushed back to late 2021, or early 2022, staff involved with the project say.

The site, expected to feature a taxpayer-funded arena, hotel and a private casino, was planned to be completed by 2020.

David Shelsted, project director with the events centre, told CBC News that the delays are because of current appeals before the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.

"There's a set time period to construct the building," Shelsted said. "So if we don't get approvals for the LPAT process in a timely nature we can't get a building permit for the [events centre] and that would then push the schedule further back."

The appeals are from the Sudbury downtown business improvement association, anti-casino advocate Tom Fortin, Sudbury planner and activist Steve May, the Minnow Lake Restoration Group and Christopher Duncanson-Hales, who is representing 36 faith leaders in the city.  

Sheltsted said the city has called a halt to any further development of the site until the LPAT process offers some resolution. That won't, however, keep them from continuing with engineering work and background studies to get the site "shovel ready" if the tribunal gives the green light to continue.

"What we're delaying is anything that you'd see on site in terms of blasting or site preparation," Shelsted said.

David Shelsted, the project leader for the events centre, says they expect LPAT appeal delays will push the estimated completion date of the KED back about a year. (Erik White/CBC)

Ian Wood, the city's general manager of community development told city council Tuesday night that all partners in the project agreed to halt further activity until the LPAT process has provided "clarity."

Those partners are Gateway Casinos, who has said it prefers to build at the KED, developer Dario Zulich, and the city. Details of the cost-sharing agreement are still being finalized, but Shelstead said he expects those details to be made public January 25.

"[The agreement] includes our financial obligations for the casino and the restaurants, obligations for the hotel and obligations for the developer for the remaining lands," Shelstead said.

Currently the city has spent approximately $1.7 million on the project, roughly 1.7 per cent of the expected $100-million price tag.

As development on the site pushed forward, even as the appeal process got underway, Coun. Mark Signoretti criticized the city for spending money on developing a parcel of land that may not end up as intended.

At a city council meeting Tuesday night, Signoretti — who was made his opposition to the KED well-known — even presented a motion to halt all development on the Kingsway until the appeal process is over.

That motion was deferred, so that councillors can take a more thorough look at the motion's wording.

Councillor MIke Jakubo said the motion was "carefully crafted" with the intent of "killing the KED."