Despite 'tremendous damage' to downtown, Sudbury city council greenlights business group's budget
‘Downtown belongs to the city, not the BIA’ says Coun. Lynne Reynolds
Sudbury's Downtown Business Association will continue to fight the development of the Kingsway Entertainment District, and despite concerns from city council, will be able to use its city-approved budget to do so.
City staff originally recommended that $20,000 of the BIA's 2018 budget of $534,000 dollars be clawed back. The $20,000 had been earmarked to fund an appeal of the Kingsway casino and arena zoning to the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT).
Some, like the city's Chief Administrative Officer Ed Archer and Coun. Robert Kirwan, said the BIA was stepping outside its mandate by filing the appeal, and using its members' money to do so.
"What is being done is contrary to the bylaw," Kirwan said. "For council to approve...we might as well say people can park without putting money in meters, despite that's what our bylaws say."
But the law, as set out in both the city's bylaws and the Municipal Act, isn't entirely clear on whether BIAs or other organizations can file appeals against the city they operate under.
A BIA's mandate, defined by the province's Municipal Act of 2001, states the role of the BIA is:
- To oversee the improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally owned land, buildings and structures in the area beyond that provided at the expense of the Municipality generally, and to promote the area as a business or shopping area.
Motion to redefine Downtown BIA on its way, says Kirwan
Kirwan said in an upcoming meeting, he also plans to put forth a motion to dissolve the group or at least rewrite the bylaw governing BIAs in the city, allowing them to pursue any appeals without contravening municipal bylaws.
"I'm not saying [the BIA] shouldn't be spending their money the way they want to spend their money," Kirwan said.
Coun. Lynne Reynolds said that the city should review not only the BIA's budget, but the rules governing the organization itself.
"The BIA has done a tremendous amount of damage to downtown," she said.
"Downtown doesn't belong to the BIA. It's downtown for the whole city."
"They're mandated to keep it safe and clean, and to promote their own business. They have no mandate to go into another neighbourhood and debate our decisions as a council."
But Coun. Fern Cormier cautioned his fellow councillors against making any heated decisions that could affect the BIA.
"We can't look at this through the lens of the way we want the rules to be," Cormier said. "We have to be judicious and view it through the lens of the way the rules are."
"We may not like the rules we have to play by, but as long as they are the rules, they are the ones to play by."