Skip to content

Lefebvre year-end interview: Challenges, ‘excitement in the air’

Mayor Paul Lefebvre said that while the City of Greater Sudbury faces numerous challenges in 2023, he’s optimistic when it comes to the region’s economic fortunes and the city’s direction
010922_TC_Lefebvre_Office_Final 1
Greater Sudbury mayoral candidate Paul Lefebvre mingles with supporters during the grand opening of his campaign office.

While recognizing the city faces numerous challenges in 2023, Mayor Paul Lefebvre said there’s ample reason to remain optimistic.

Each major challenge has been paired with an action, he said, including a plan to address a bottleneck in housing that has been frequently blamed for stymying growth.

While fears of a broader recession are bandied about, Lefebvre said, “I’m optimistic on the economy being strong” locally, adding he’s “bullish on what’s going on in Sudbury, certainly on the mining side — lots of exploration and a lot of activity going on.”

Lefebvre was in Ottawa earlier this month meeting with federal ministers about Canada’s new Critical Minerals Strategy, under which he said the Greater Sudbury area’s natural resources will place the region front and centre.

City staff are working on a plan to determine where Greater Sudbury might fit into the federal plan so they’re ready to pounce when the funding doors swing open. 

“I’ll be going back to them and showing where we should fit in and how we can help them achieve their goals and how it’s going to help us in Sudbury,” he said. 

A “limiting factor” on future growth will be housing, which Lefebvre said the city is poised to address through the drafting of a housing strategy in 2023.

Although the city plays a role alongside senior levels of government when it comes to certain housing, such as affordable and transitional, market housing is up to the private sector.

“The role for us is to provide the permits, so how can we improve the permitting?” Lefebvre said, adding that working with private landowners will be a priority in the new year.

During a wide-ranging year-end interview with, Lefebvre said a “major challenge” strongly aligned with the need to increase assessment growth to help keep tax increases low, will be 2023 budget deliberations city council will begin digging into in mid February.

Alongside a need to cut $17.7 million from the 2023 budget in order to hit a 3.7-per-cent tax increase in 2023, city council faces a potential $7.78 tax impact in 2023 via 36 business cases for service level changes, if approved. Various service level reductions have also been proposed, including cuts to GOVA Transit service. 

At the same time, Lefebvre noted the city is contending with an infrastructure deficit. A municipal report tabled last year estimated the city needs to spend an additional $100 million per year to maintain assets at their overall current state.

“There are some tough decisions to be made in the upcoming budget,” Lefebvre said.

“These are the cards we have ... but how do we create a community where people want to live, work and play, and at the same time ensuring we respect every tax dollar that is in there and at the same time create new revenue without raising taxes...?”

The prospect of tough decisions on the horizon also applies to a 40-unit transitional housing complex proposed to be constructed on Lorraine Street.

Various residents have expressed opposition to the $14.4-million project, which a decisive city council vote of 9-2 approved the city to proceed with. The facility is aimed to house 40 people who are chronically homeless, with wraparound services to ease them into permanent housing.

Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent, who represents the area, has pledged to support residents in their opposition to the building’s construction in their neighbourhood.

This type of disagreement is something Lefebvre said he aspires to encourage in council chambers, which he describes as “the role of a democracy.”

“Eventually, we need to come to a decision point,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not an easy one, but they need to be made and we move on and accept it.”

Although he said decision points are required for city staff to proceed with the work they need to do, Lefebvre clarified that votes won’t be “one and done” under his leadership, and that continuous feedback from residents will be sought to determine what’s working and what isn’t.

One area Lefebvre said things aren’t operating as well as they should be are the services aimed at assisting those affected by the opioid and mental health crises.

“The role of the city is to co-ordinate all of the people on the ground,” he said, adding that one of his goals will be to have the city work with various groups to prevent the doubling up of efforts, fill in gaps and make the best use of everyone’s efforts.

Another major challenge Lefebvre said he plans on tackling is securing provincial funding for key city projects the city has been funding despite them falling under the province’s jurisdiction.

This includes operational funding for the transitional housing complex and supervised consumption site, as well as similar efforts. According to the latest counts, there are more unhoused people than there are shelter beds, and the city’s warming/cooling centre has closed.

Lefebvre said he plans on visiting Queen’s Park at least a couple of times during the first few months of 2023 to speak with ministers in-person, as well as communicate with them via phone on a regular basis to advocate on Greater Sudbury’s behalf.

Earlier this month, Lefebvre said he has also been in contact with the province about Bill 23, the More Homes, Build Faster Act, which is poised to shift approximately $7.5 million from development-related fees onto Greater Sudbury’s general tax base and water/wastewater rates over the next five years.

As for major projects such as the proposed Junction East Cultural Hub library/art gallery building, and a new or refurbished Sudbury Community Arena, Lefebvre said there are a “lot of things to look at,” and that although these projects are “top of mind,” there isn’t much else to say about them until later in the new year.

The future of the Junction East project appears to have been cast into uncertainty by the new city council, with its future approval appearing largely contingent on the city receiving external funding. The arena question is also unclear, though Lefebvre said he’s advocating for a downtown project using money the city has already borrowed for an arena project.

Although there are numerous tough decisions on the horizon, Lefebvre said it’s what he and 12 councillors have been elected to make. 

“There’s a lot of excitement in the air,” he said. “I think it’ll be a very positive year for the City of Greater Sudbury. There are some challenges, but I’m excited for what 2023 will bring.”

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for



Verified reader

If you would like to apply to become a verified commenter, please fill out this form.

Tyler Clarke

About the Author: Tyler Clarke

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for
Read more