Mayor Brian Bigger said it is full steam ahead for the Kingsway Entertainment District.
During a media scrum following Wednesday’s council meeting at which the cohort discussed a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers detailing the proposed events centre, Bigger said there really are no obstacles left. The decision made by council in June 2017 stands and the project can now move forward.
“Staff are working closely with our partners on the KED. The commitment of the partners is important for the public and council to understand,” Bigger said. “So far the indications have been positive.”
Ian Wood, the city’s executive director of strategic initiatives, communications and citizen services, outlined the next steps in his report last week to council. If all goes according to plan, the events centre will open in 2024.
“Staff (members) anticipate returning to council with a detailed schedule of tasks in contemplation of proceeding with the current, approved direction,” the report indicated. “In general, the following major tasks need to be completed and will be identified in the report: retain a venue operator; issue the design/build RFP; site development, including grading, road and intersection construction; develop detailed design drawings; and events centre construction.”
Rob Mitchell, director of communications and public affairs for Gateway Casinos, said his company is looking forward to learning more about how the project will proceed.
“Gateway looks forward to seeing the recommendations of city staff regarding next steps on a timeline and the necessary decision points required of council for the KED project to proceed,” he said.
The city currently has three partners in the KED project: Gateway Casinos, which has indicated it plans to build a $60 million casino at the site; Dario Zulich, the developer and owner of the lands that surround the parcel set aside for the events centre; and the hotel, which is currently unnamed and represented by Zulich.
Zulich also owns the Sudbury Wolves and the Sudbury Five, which would be the arena/events centre’s major tenants.
The KED has been one of the most controversial projects in Sudbury in recent memory. Several councillors are anti-KED and while a reconsideration of the June 2017 vote is possible, Bigger said he does not think there is much appetite for another vote on the location of the events centre.
“There has not been a resolution that reconsiders the KED brought forward by the council members who continue to voice their questions,” Bigger said. “They’ve not brought forward any motion to reconsider the decision that was made in 2017.”
In June 2017, council accepted a report by PwC that determined downtown was a preferable location for an events centre. To move forward, council had to vote on the two top contenders.
First, council voted on the downtown location, but the option was lost to a 6-6 tie (Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier did not vote). Second, council voted on the Kingsway. It won by a vote of 10-2. Only Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti and Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier voted against the Kingsway.
While councillors are welcome to introduce a motion to reconsider that historic vote or to seek more information, Bigger said “at this time, we’re moving forward with the KED; that is the decision of the majority of council and that decision is moving forward.”
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