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$200M arena decision ‘a big step’ for Sudbury’s future, mayor says

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In a lengthy council meeting Tuesday night, city council in Sudbury unanimously voted to build a new arena and events centre downtown.

In the four-hour session, 12 councillors and Mayor Paul Lefebvre voted to move forward with the $200 million project.

"We took a big step, investing in ourselves, investing in our city," Sudbury Mayor Paul Lefebvre said in an interview with CTV News following the council meeting.

"Quite proud of council, a lot of courage, big investment, historic investment. It bodes well to show how we believe in our city and, and we're able to invest in our city."

The 73-year-old arena has been up for debate for more than a decade. A project recommending a new casino, hotel and arena on the Kingsway was approved in 2017 but rejected in 2022 after costs soared.

Last year, the city purchased multiple properties in the Shaughnessy Street area for $12 million as a possible location for a new arena.

In the four-hour session Tuesday, 12 Greater Sudbury city councillors and Mayor Paul Lefebvre voted to move forward with the $200 million project. (Amanda Hicks/CTV news)

A staff report on the plan recommended building a new rink as the best option for investment and least risk during construction. It was also pointed out that the current arena has accessibility barriers and environmental limitations.

Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc put forth a motion requesting a deferral, arguing that the decision should be made after consulting the public.

"We should hear from the public, it's what they deserve," Leduc said.

"Putting this decision off by two months won't make much of a difference. Let's get it right, people. That's all I'm asking."

'We need to make a decision'

But everyone at the table rejected the deferral. Ward 7 Coun. Natalie Labbée said the decision has been postponed long enough.

"This city has had a lot of time to digest this. If we go to a community consultation, we're going to get the same thing, we're not going to get consensus," Labbée said.

"We need to make a decision -- people elected us to make the tough decisions."

Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier said he believed the public wanted a decision made.

"I think we're prepared to move forward and make a decision one way or another," said Cormier.

"I think that’s what the vast majority needs, wants and deserves from us on this particular issue."

Leduc said he was disappointed with the decision.

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"I put a motion on the table to go out for public consultation so that the public can get involved in the decision of the arena, to make sure we're moving in the right direction,” he said.

“I was hoping to get support on that, obviously I didn't … I'm not saying building a new arena is wrong, but not getting public input is definitely wrong."

He said he plans to put a motion forward calling for a referendum on the issue.

Lefebvre said the plan is to hopefully begin construction in 2026 and complete the project by 2028. 

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