Sudbury

Former mayor says World Trade Centre would be 'game changer' for Sudbury, seeks $10M from council

Sudbury city council is being asked to chip in $10 million to build a World Trade Centre in the city's downtown. The group behind the idea sees this as a $60 million office complex where Sudbury businesses can find international customers.

City council votes to spend $35K to study idea, how it fits with downtown convention centre plan

A group is pushing to bring a World Trade Centre office complex to downtown Sudbury at a cost of $55-65 million dollars, much of which the proponents hope will come from government funding. (City of Greater Sudbury )

Sudbury city council was asked Tuesday night to chip in $10 million to build a World Trade Centre in the city's downtown.

The group behind the idea sees this as $60 million office complex where Sudbury businesses can find international customers, similar to what happens at other world trade centres around the globe.

"They're out fishing in the ocean for business leads. They're out there fishing with their fishing pole, they're kind of on their own," said Cody Cacciotti, one of the proponents and a former mayoral candidate.

"We see the World Trade Centre's value to this community is it acts as the net, it's the one place where we can bring everybody together."

Former Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk, who was focused on cutting city spending during her time in office, calls this project "a game changer" for the city.

Former mayor of Greater Sudbury, Marianne Matichuk.

The group is hoping that $10 million over 10 years, the same deal city council gave to the architecture school years ago, will help them leverage funding from the provincial and federal governments.

Cacciotti says the plan is that once the trade centre is full of office tenants, it would generate an estimated $1 million in property taxes every year, with the city rapidly getting its money back.

But some councillors were skeptical about the concept.

"We're ultimately talking about taking a service that's being offered by different people throughout the city and charging a fee for service to pay off a building. My concern is this might not be adding value to local businesses," said city councillor Geoff McCausland.

"What would be the difference between this facility and a commercial office building?"

Matichuk explained that the brand of "World Trade Centre" and the network of similar complexes around the globe is what makes the difference.

"If we were to go anywhere and say, 'Oh, you know there's a World Trade Centre,' people will gravitate toward that. So that's why it puts you at a little higher level," Matichuk told council. 

"What we want to do is to put Sudbury on the world stage. So, with the World Trade Centre, that's what you do."

City council accepted councillor Fern Cormier's suggestion that up to $35,000 be spent studying the idea and that the consultant already hired to plan the new convention centre proposed for downtown Sudbury be given the job, since it's thought the two projects could fit together.

"It's the adage of 'measure twice, cut once,'" Cormier told council. 

"We've had different projects come forward and looked great at first blush, time goes on and there was some hurdles that were discovered, and from that point on we decided as a group that when we were dealing with projects of this magnitude involving requests of this type of funding that the due diligence would be done."

About the Author

Erik White

journalist

Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to erik.white@cbc.ca

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