Sudbury councillors expecting heated debate on Kingsway casino, arena vote
Vote could 'split up' components of proposed entertainment district' Mike Jakubo says
Sudbury city council will decide tonight the fate of a pair of rezoning applications that if approved, would pave the way for the development of the Kingsway entertainment district.
The proposed development on the Kingsway would eventually be the home to the city's new $100 million hockey dollar arena, and Gateway Casino's privately-run gaming centre.
Although the arena and casino will stand in close proximity on the Kingsway, their rezoning applications are being voted on separately. Councillor Mike Jakubo said he's prepared for a heated debate in council chambers, and the possibility that one application will be approved and one won't.
"The possibility is there for the project to get split up," Jakubo said.
He said opposition to the district is coming from "a small minority of people in the public and a very select amount of concentrated business owners."
Earlier in April, more than 30 faith leaders lent their voice to the anti-casino movement, joining grassroots group Casino Free Sudbury and the Downtown Business Improvement Association in their appeal of the municipal decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
Jakubo noted the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission has already given Gateway the green light to build a new casino in Sudbury, whether it's part of the future Kingsway site or not.
"Right now you've got a private company, not the city, who happens to be in the gaming industry and they have been given the green light by the province to open up an expanded gaming facility in our city, not in a specific location, but somewhere in our city," Jakubo said.
"Gateway has seen council's decision for the events centre, and if I was in their shoes, I would want to be there too," he said. "Nobody can fault them for wanting to co-locate the facility on the same property."
Councillor Mark Signoretti has been a singular voice of dissent throughout each stage of planning for the Kingsway Entertainment District. He said he'll vote against rezoning for both the casino and arena, citing a lack of public input throughout the process.
Signoretti also said that early in the district's planning stage, the public was misled into believing developer Dario Zulich would be paying for construction of the $100 million arena, when it will be entirely funded by public dollars.
"There's a lot of people that are more engaged now in this process, so I think we need to step back, with the right information, because there's new information that has been brought forward."
Signoretti said some of that new information deals with the economic impact on the downtown core, and concerns about problem gambling.
With files from Benjamin Aube