Community voices loud in opposing Kingsway casino, events centre
Sudburians had their say about the rezoning of properties for a proposed casino and events centre on the Kingsway Monday night.
It was the first of two public hearings before council decides to proceed with plans to build what they're calling the Kingsway Entertainment District, located in the city's east end.
Around 80 people crammed into council chambers, including developer Dario Zulich, whose vision for an events centre put the ball in motion last year.
The city intends to buy Zulich's land, which is currently zoned as industrial, and use it to build a new arena.
Gateway Casinos has written a letter of intent to locate its casino near the events centre.
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By the end of the meeting, more than 30 people voiced their opinion to members of the city's planning committee. Almost all of the feedback was encouraging the city to reconsider its decision to allow the casino to locate in Sudbury.
Steve Caruso, who lives downtown, is leery of claims that casinos bring wealth to a community. He points to the plight of Las Vegas casinos.
"It's not a booming industry," Caruso said. "What [Sudbury] is currently proposing supporting is a $100 million investment in a facility that is losing popularity quickly. You might as well invest in buggy whips."
Death knell for healthy communities?
Erin Danyliw returned to Sudbury because she was impressed by the plan the city seemed to have for its future. That future is in jeopardy, Danyliw said, if the city proceeds with the east end entertainment district.
"We chose to stay in a community focused on establishing a healthy community," Danyliw said. "Casinos do not produce healthy communities. Increasing urban sprawl does not produce healthy communities."
But Rob Mitchell, Gateway's director of communications and public affairs, said he's not convinced that the casino brings doom and gloom to a community.
"I think we're going to have tremendous benefit economically to the community that's not being recognized," Mitchell said.
"Something I'd really like to emphasize is we're private money, this isn't taxpayers money. This is sixty million dollars that we're investing that isn't public funds."
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And caught in the middle is Zulich. Despite the voices in opposition, he said he's glad so many people are energized about the project.
"We have to listen to everybody," Zulich said. "I'm excited for the future of the city. I'm happy that there's been extensive public engagement so all of us can shape the final product."
"We're all going to have a hand in this spectacular entertainment destination."