Mixed reactions to Kingsway Entertainment District delay
Work pause just the latest in a series of delays for the controversial project
Proponents of Sudbury's Kingsway Entertainment District say the latest delay to the project won't change the final outcome. But those opposed to the project see the delay as a sign partners might back out.
On Monday, the city announced it was pausing work at the Kingsway site, which was scheduled to start this week, at the request of Gateway Casinos. In an email to city staff, Gateway cited a number of "significant risks" associated with the project, including an ongoing legal challenge from the Minnow Lake Restoration Group and an OPP investigation into bribery allegations.
"I was surprised to a point, because I thought that everything was going to move forward as we had planned. But at the same time I'm not surprised that they would put it on pause at this point," said Robert Kirwan, Sudbury city councillor for Ward 5.
Kirwan said Gateway's decision is likely a "wise move" and didn't consider it an indication that the project might be in jeopardy.
"It's not that they're any less enthusiastic about the project, it's just right now, get this other stuff out of the way and then we can move forward."
'House of cards'
Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier, meanwhile, took a different view. Montpellier said he doesn't believe the legal challenge and the OPP investigation are the true — or only — reason for the pause.
"Now people are starting to realize that all of this really was just a dream," Montpellier said.
"The house of cards was starting to fall. And they're cutting their losses. That's what I think."
Gateway Casinos and developer Dario Zulich both declined CBC's requests for interviews. In a written statement, Zulich said all KED partners "remain committed" to the project.
"[The] Kingsway Entertainment District project was viable four years ago, last year, and remains as such today. It will still be an exciting and viable project in a few months from now," the statement said.
In the email to city staff on Monday, the representative from Gateway said the company "remains supportive" of the project. The city said staff are meeting with Gateway representatives and Zulich this week.
The city's chief administrative officer Ed Archer said the pause doesn't necessarily mean the project timeline will be delayed. But even if it does, Kirwan said he's confident it will be built in the end, as planned.
"It's been delayed two years because of legal challenges already, so it may get delayed another year, but that's just the way the system works," Kirwan said.
With files from Zacharie Routhier