Minnow Lake group seeks court review of Sudbury council's decision to proceed with KED

Local non-profit charity the Minnow Lake Restoration Group is taking legal action against the City of Greater Sudbury in connection with recent decisions about the Kingsway Entertainment District.
The Kingsway Entertainment District (KED) was embroiled in legal problems for three years before they wrapped up in December. The development project is now the focus of an application for a judicial review into Sudbury city council's recent decision to proceed with KED. (Erik White/CBC )

Sudbury's Kingsway Entertainment District is facing another legal challenge.

The controversial project, which includes a new municipal arena, hotel and casino to be built at the east end of the Kingsway, spent three years embroiled in legal challenges through the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal. But those matters wrapped up at the end of last year.

Now, a judicial review has been filed in Ontario's divisional court, by the non-profit Minnow Lake Restoration Group, against the city.

The group's lawyer, Eric Gillespie, said the judicial review focuses on city council's decision last month to proceed with the project. 

Lawyer Eric Gillespie represents the Minnow Lake Restoration Group, which filed the judicial review against the City of Greater Sudbury. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

"I think at that council meeting there really was a desire on the part of some of the members of council to further explore the decision to move the project forward," he said.

"There appeared to be some fundamental elements that really haven't been spoken to that really could change people's views."

A judicial review looks at whether legal requirements were met prior to a decision being made.

"In this case, Minnow Lake [Restoration Group] is saying that didn't happen," Gillespie said.

Many questions continue to be raised by members of the public ... many of those questions simply aren't being answered.- Eric Gillespie, lawyer for Minnow Lake Restoration Group

"If it turns out that the court agrees the matter would be sent back to the city council, and we're hopeful that once all of the facts get on the table and there's a full discussion about it, that that might well lead to a different outcome."

Gillespie said the primary concerns raised in the court application relate to the fairness of the process followed by the city in its decision-making.

"Many questions continue to be raised by members of the public and in turn their elected representatives, and many of those questions simply aren't being answered," he said.

"That means that the project is moving ahead with a number of concerns still unresolved."

Uncommon legal avenue

Gillespie said judicial reviews are uncommon in the court system, but have been used before.

In a judicial review, a three-judge divisional court panel will decide if city council failed to properly exercise decision-making powers.

Gillespie said that if the court agrees, the matter would be sent back for a new decision with any missing facts supplied.

"Our client is certainly of the view, as are we, that there are proper grounds to bring these issues forward, and that's why the application is proceeding at this stage," he said.

A spokesperson for the city said it has not yet been served with the application, and therefore can't speak about the matter at this time.

With files from Angela Gemmill