Motion calls for suspension of library, art gallery project in downtown Sudbury
A motion headed to city council next week calls for the suspension of the Junction East project, which would see a new library and art gallery built in downtown Sudbury.
The motion, from Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc, cites COVID-19 as the reason for halting the project.
"The pandemic and its associated consequences have created a climate of financial uncertainty, increased risks and unforeseen budgetary demands," the motion reads.
"The downtown area is experiencing unprecedented challenges as a result of the pandemic and time is needed to resolve those challenges and assess future needs."
The motion comes after a report last summer said costs for Junction East have risen 21 per cent.
Plans include a 62,000 square-foot building downtown, expected to open in 2024, housing a new central library and a new Art Gallery of Sudbury. It is set to be built on Shaughnessy Street in downtown Sudbury, in the parking lot beside the Sudbury Theatre Centre.
The Sudbury Theatre Centre and Sudbury Multicultural and Folk Arts Association are partnering on the project. Initial estimates for the project were about $46 million, not including an estimated $8 million to $12 million for a parking structure.
Leduc's motion asks for staff to prepare a report by the first quarter of 2022 "assessing the potential implications of suspending the Junction East project until a future period."
Costs for the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED) have also risen by $14 million, a report last summer said, bringing the proposed budget to $114 million. The KED is in limbo as Gateway Casinos has asked for a pause on its role in the development.
Gateway has been hit hard by the pandemic, with gaming facilities closed for long stretches. They are closing again Jan. 5 as the province struggles to contain the spread of the Omicron variant.
There's also a motion on the KED at the Jan. 11 city council meeting. Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier is asking for an information report in light of rising construction costs and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic.
Read both motions here.