Sudbury selects arena site as new location for art gallery, library

Downtown Sudbury is one step closer to getting a new art gallery and library.

Downtown Sudbury is one step closer to getting a convention centre, new art gallery and library.

Sudbury city council voted to locate the planned projects on the site of the current Sudbury Arena.  That would involve tearing down the arena once the Sudbury Wolves hockey team relocates to its new home on the Kingsway in 2020.

The Sudbury arena has stood at the corners of Minto and Elgin Streets since 1951.

The vote to select the site was originally slated for a city council meeting in December, but was deferred until Tuesday night so councillors could have more time to wade through the information presented by staff.

Councillors were also hoping that more information would be provided on their criteria for selection of the site.

In the end, the data compiled by a steering committee—  comprised of members of Greater Sudbury Public Libraries and the Sudbury Art Gallery, as well as others from the community— pointed to 240 Elgin Street as the location that meshes best with the city's downtown master plan.

Greater Sudbury Public Library chair Michael Bellmore said the council's decision is one more step in a long process to provide the city with a new library.

"We're optimistic," Bellmore said. "But it's like being that child on Christmas Eve looking at presents under the tree wanting to open them. We're kind of at that stage.  

"It'll be a while before we get to open them. But we're one more step, going up the rung." 

The Elgin Street site also scored well on accessibility, visibility, and its potential to help revitalize downtown.

During the lead up to the site selection, several councillors said they had been swamped by emails from constituents and proponents of the 10 Elm Street site.

A group called The Heart of Sudbury Set up a web page recently, touting the Rainbow Centre as the most cost-effective choice for the city, saying it hopes to create a "one stop cultural and services hub" downtown.

On the site, it also says the Rainbow Centre is downtown Sudbury's "largest paying contributor and the real estate leader in the Downtown core."

The selection committee was not won over by the claims.

The city's director of economic development, Ian Wood, said there were multiple categories the committee used, a large matrix similar to last year's Kingsway events centre evaluation.  

"From our perspective, a lot of the information promulgated to the public was information the team did understand...the Rainbow site was never declared ineligible, it just didn't finish at the top of the heap," Wood said.

"And that's what the staff recommendation is based on."

Other sites toured by the steering committee were the Minto Street parking lot, 10 Elm Street (The Rainbow Centre) and the Shaughnessy Street parking lot.

The next step for city staff will be to put together public consultation sessions to get feedback. They are expected to report back to council in early 2018.


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