Put Kingsway Entertainment plans on hold until legal matters resolved, councillor says
Mark Signoretti says defending appeals could cost taxpayers $100,000
City councillor Mark Signoretti wants work on the Kingsway Entertainment District put on hold while zoning for the project undergoes a review.
It was earlier this year when Sudbury city council approved zoning for a new arena and casino on the site. Opponents have since appealed the decision to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT), which was created this spring to replace the Ontario Municipal Board.
Meanwhile, city staff are moving forward with the Kingsway project. Public consultation is underway on the design of a festival square to be located on the site, which is on the east end of the Kingsway, near Levesque Street.
But Signoretti, the councillor for Ward 1, says staff should halt that work until the appeal is decided because the price tag would fall on the taxpayers.
"If you calculate [lawyers'] time, staff time in this whole process and depending on the length of the appeal, I think this could cost the city and taxpayers well in excess of $100,000," he said.
"If we're going to incur that much money in legal fees to defend these appeals, why are we continuing spending other monies that belong to the taxpayer on moving this project forward? Whether it's getting the design done, whatever parts that we're doing; why are we doing that prematurely?"
Signoretti says this situation could have been avoided if council listened to recommendations to put the arena downtown.
"So now we've gone down what I would call a rabbit hole, and now we have to incur costs on behalf of the taxpayer to defend this process."
He also says he feels its premature and misleading to make the public think the project is a done deal, particularly with the appeals still looming.
Signoretti wants the city to take a step back and wait for the LPAT decision, before the project goes any further.
City staff not asked to slow pace of work
During a city council meeting on June 26, Signoretti questioned the city's director of infrastructure capital planning services, David Shelsted, about why the city was moving forward with plans despite the appeals.
"We've been asked to proceed with the project. Staff is taking steps to proceed with the project and we're keeping council fully abreast on the steps we're taking to move forward through these regular updates," Shelsted said.
City spokesperson Shannon Dowling says there has been no direction from council to stop or slow the pace of work. She added there is no information about the cost of the appeal, at this time.
With files from Robin De Angelis