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After KED debacle, future of Sudbury Arena up for debate again

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After lengthy court battles and the COVID-19 pandemic torpedoed plans to build new on the Kingsway, local politicians are restarting the debate about what to do with Sudbury Community Arena downtown.

A report headed to city council July 11 outlines the same options that city council has been looking at for more than a decade when it comes to dealing with the 73-year-old Elgin Street rink.

The report said the city could simply repair the building as problems arise; do a big renovation; build a new arena; or, build a new arena as part of a downtown redevelopment.

Simply maintaining the building would cost about $1 million a year for the next 10 years. However that approach doesn’t address accessibility issues, some of which the old rink can’t physically accommodate.

“This could result in the municipality being in contravention of either the spirit or the letter of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act could also limit the number and types of future events in the facility,” the report said.

A major renovation of the facility would cost between $74 million and $150 million “in 2023 dollars.” In contrast, the KED budget was initially $100 million, but ballooned to at least $215 million after the legal delays and pandemic.

Building a new arena downtown would cost at least $200 million, the report said, adding that unlike the Kingsway, “there are servicing requirements and foundational challenges that need to be addressed in the city core.”

The final option, making the arena part of a downtown redevelopment, includes few details and no cost estimate. But the report said other communities have done such developments and promises “a more detailed analysis of this approach to event centre development for the Sept. 26 meeting of council.”

While the arena report is publicly available, a report on the future of the art gallery and library planned for downtown has not yet been posted.

Delays in the arena process also delayed the gallery and library, leading to the same ballooning costs. After being proposed in 2016 at a cost of $46 million, delays pushed the price to an estimated $98.5 million.

That prompted Mayor Paul Lefebvre to direct staff to come up with a report on how to get the budget closer to $65 million. The report is on the July 11 agenda, but has not yet been made available on the city’s website.

Read the full arena report here.

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