SUDBURY -- Greater Sudbury is considering changes that would make it harder for the Sudbury Downtown Business Improvement Area to take part in legal action opposing a council decision.

The move comes two years after the downtown BIA joined a legal appeal to the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal to try and stop the Kingsway Entertainment District.

In early 2018, city council voted to move the downtown arena to the Kingsway. Initially, the arena was to be torn down and replaced with a new performing arts centre, library and art gallery.

But when the legal fight began, councillors voted to move the projects to an area around Shaughnessy Street to ensure they wouldn't be delayed by the fight over the KED.

While the BIA argued it was following its mandate – fighting for the interests of downtown Sudbury – some on city council were upset that a group created by the city to support city council goals were taking them to court.

"Council has the authority under the Act to dissolve either or both of the boards of management in their entirety under section 214 of the Act, or change the board as described in section 216 of the Act, or continue with the boards as they exist now," says a staff report outlining proposed changes headed to city council June 22.

Under the Municipal Act, the report says, BIAs have two purposes:

- Oversee the improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally owned land, buildings and structures in that business improvement area, and

- Promote the business improvement area as a business or shopping area.

Some communities have dissolved BIAs, the report said, while others, such as Toronto, passed laws preventing the 83 BIAs in the city from taking part in legal action "unless the board has conducted a general meeting of the membership to obtain approval to participate in a specific hearing, and obtained approval of any related expenditures.

"The boards are also precluded from passing a resolution or taking a position contrary to any council-approved policy or decision," the report said.

Under proposed changes, a new bylaw governing the BIA would require several steps if the group wants to take the city to court. It would have to have a general meeting first, present the budget and details of the legal fight to members and receive two-thirds support of BIA members before taking part.

"These changes would assist the boards in remaining focused on activities that are aligned with city council," the report said.

Read the full report here.