New arena for Sudbury steals the show

By Mary Katherine Keown, The Sudbury Star

In this corner, an events centre by Zulich. And in this corner, an arena by Dalron.

The two projects were the stars of Tuesday’s council meeting, at which Ian Wood, the city’s director of economic development, laid out the details of 16 large projects that council is considering supporting.

Calling the True North Strong Centre, which would be located along The Kingsway, a “once in a generation” opportunity, the $60 million project that includes at least one ice pad would seek “active participation” from the city, though a financial commitment was not defined.

Should council support this project, Wood suggested they form a working group, hire a consultant and identify other funding sources.

A second arena, proposed by Dalron for the south end with a price tag of $74 million, sought money from council, as well at $1.5 million annually in operating costs.

They were pitched with the idea that Sudbury will be home to a casino at some point.

“Both developments identify the potential for other complementary uses such as hotels, retail establishments, restaurants, etc. Both of these projects also provide an opportunity to develop a coherent vision for development in the surrounding area and should be seen as a catalyst to accelerate the achievement of such a vision,” a staff report indicated. “Future proposals for a new casino in Sudbury will likely include conference and performance facilities as ancillary to the casino. Potential bidders for a new casino have also indicated an interest in partnering in the development of a new sports and entertainment facility, if located in the immediate vicinity of the casino.”

The Art Gallery of Sudbury was also discussed on Tuesday. It is seeking a downtown location, having expressed concerns about their current space and their ability to protect their collection. Wood said the relocation of the gallery to a downtown location could result in seven to nine full-time jobs, as well as several temporary posts during the construction or renovation phase. Wood also said his staff has encouraged the art gallery to partner with the city’s main library branch.

Wood said the Place des Arts – an arts centre that would be located downtown – is at the most advanced stages of development; however, he pointed out problems with parking and finding new spaces, as the land the group would like to use for the centre is currently a parking lot.

“These projects are large and have the potential to change the fabric and economics of our community,” Wood said. “Some would be twice the size of the Laurentian school of architecture. “¦ Like Maley Drive, they have the potential to be city building projects – the opportunity to open up and revitalize different areas of the community. Unlike Maley Drive, many of these projects are more nuanced and complex than a roads engineering project.”

Other projects include an assisted living centre in Capreol, the Cedar Street parking structure, the artsjuncion creative live/work space, a film studio, housing for those with acquired brain injuries, the redevelopment of the Minnow Lake legion on Weller Street and a rail system to Espanola.

No decisions were made Tuesday. That process will not begin until April 26, when council holds a prioritization meeting at which they will begin to discuss in earnest the merits of each project.

But there seemed to be some trouble with the upcoming meeting. Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan expressed concern that councillors meeting in small groups, out of earshot, is akin to an in-camera meeting.

But Mike Jakubo came to the meeting’s defense and said many of the projects will help support Sudbury’s bottom line.

“I know we’re all very eager around this table to make some decisions “¦ but we do have a process we’ve identified to prioritize them,” the Ward 7 councillor said, advocating for the April 26 meeting. “It’ll provide us with an opportunity to move forward.”