Sudbury mayoral candidate says poll shows declining support for Kingsway Entertainment District

Few issues have polarized Sudburians more than the development of the proposed Kingsway Entertainment District, and now it has been introduced as a hot button issue to sway voters in the October municipal election. One mayoral candidate has gone so far as to pay for a poll to gauge public support for the $100 million development.

Patricia Mills commissions Oraclepoll to survey 500 Sudburians

Mayoral candidate Patricia Mills says a poll shows public support for the Kingsway Entertainment District has declined. (Benjamin Aubé (CBC))

Few issues have polarized Sudburians more than the development of the proposed Kingsway Entertainment District, and some candidates are using the hot button issue to sway voters in the October municipal election.

Sudbury mayoral candidate Patricia Mills paid for a poll to gauge public support for the $100 million development.

Mills commissioned the firm Oraclepoll to ask 500 Sudburians if they still want a new arena.

Fifty-eight per cent said yes.

But Mills notes that number has dropped from seventy-two per cent back in June, 2017.

She blames current mayor Brian Bigger for the public's diminishing interest in the project.

Mills says support is declining because people didn't understand how much the city will have to invest.

"I have people from all various camps, and they all say the same thing: They want leadership. They want to make sure it gets built, but they want to make sure it gets built and being fiscally responsible about it."

 Mills says she would have a budget for the project instead of a blank cheque.

"It's a huge investment, and do we need to go in debt for it? Is there another way to do it? Why isn't the developer paying for it, and what are all the minute details?" she says.

Mayor not worried 

Mayor Brian Bigger, who has been a proponent of the project, says the poll results are fine with him.

"When the majority of citizens believe this type of investment is good for our community, and the mayor is supporting that development, this is a good thing. This is what the public expects."

Bigger is seeking re-election against 10 other candidates.

Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

The poll says 51 per cent of respondents say they don't think taxpayers should finance the 100 million dollar project, according to the current plan.

Mills insists she'd convince private partners to pay a bigger share.

But Bigger counters with the evidence that the private sector doesn't build new arenas because they're never money-making ventures.​

Oraclepoll notes the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 %, 19 times out of 20.

with files from Benjamin Aubé