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KED is dead: Sudbury council ends involvement in Kingsway arena project


After a marathon discussion Tuesday, city council in Greater Sudbury formally ended its involvement in the Kingsway Entertainment District.

Tuesday's meeting at Tom Davies Square was likely the best attended since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many people turning out to hear council's decision.

Some holding signs were told by corporate security they would have to remove the signs from the property.

After years of failed legal challenges, the KED was finally taken down by inflation that has hit the construction industry hard. The proposed budget ballooned from around $100 million to $215 million, too expensive for councillors to support.

"There are several reasons for the cost increase," said David Shelsted, the city's director of engineering services.

"The progressive design build represents the first detailed cost-estimate for the events centre and then we're also in extraordinary times with the pandemic, supply-chain shortages, inflationary pressures. This can be seen by everybody, whether you're filling up at a gas station, you're at a lumber store or buying a new vehicle, we're seeing supply shortages at the supply chain."

Shelsted and others faced questions from councillors before they moved onto vote on the resolutions. Four resolutions -- including to build at $215 million and seek new financing, and to go back to the tender for $150 million -- were overwhelmingly voted down.

Mayor Brian Bigger had thanked staff for the hard work they had done but had previously issued a news statement saying that he would be voting against the project.

"The recommendations that are in the report are very clear, recommending the borrowing the addition of $115 million at an interest rate at five or six per cent so everyone is aware of that fact as well," said Bigger at the start of the debate.

He threatened to evict some from the chamber after Shelsted faced some snickering and comments in the gallery during his update.

"The information changed significantly in the last few weeks," said Bigger.

"We're very fortunate that we do have an off-ramp at this point in time and that we're able to change the course of this project."

After the meeting, Bigger said council supported an $80 million to $100 million project, but that was no longer an option.

"There's no disappointment from anybody's perspective except that the economic situation has clearly changed," he said.

Council appeared to be firmly behind the mayor, all with agreements in support.

"What I heard is that many residents want us to build an events centre," said Ward 6 Coun. Rene Lapierre.

"There's no question about that, they want Greater Sudbury to move from a young adult city to a mature city, but they all say that this cost is too much."

Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier told CTV News he knew from the start the costs would be out of control.

"I always knew it was going to be the most expensive, single-pad, small town arena in the entire world, I always knew it," he said.

"Sudbury did deserve a large arena -- they really do -- but not this small arena that was planned at the back of an arena. I was always against the development of the yellow-brick road."

The project has faced stiff opposition from the Downtown Sudbury BIA, including member Jeff MacIntyre.

"It's a really good time to turn the page on this project, it's been a long five years and this was the conclusion that we thought we'd end up at," MacIntyre said.

"I don't think that anyone was looking to get to ($215 million), I do think a lot of what we said early in the process of the cost being much higher for the infrastructure was proven by this final report," he said. "The cost of the building wasn't the only costs, there were really expensive costs with infrastructure."

MacIntyre is hoping the next council will take a look at the infrastructure question.

"The appetite for the spend on a new arena is not there … I think realistically the renovation of the current arena is pretty likely because we do need an upgrade and some amenities," he said.

"I'm just really glad to turn the page on this. Nobody wanted this fight."

The city has so far spent nearly $4 million already on the project. The number could fluctuate as they deal with some final invoices.

It's unclear what this will mean for the hotel and casino planned for the property.

There is no plan in the works, as of yet, for a new arena but as of now the mayor has confirmed the city's involvement with the KED is done. Top Stories

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