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Coun. Lynne Reynolds: The Kingsway is the place for a new event centre

Downtown location lacks the vision of Kingsway proposal, says Ward 11 councillor
Ward 11 Coun. Lynne Reynolds (File)

By Lynne Reynolds, Ward 11 councillor

Ed. Note: With a decision on the location of a new events centre just weeks away, Coun. Lynne Reynolds approached to share her thoughts on where the new facility should go.

Right from Day One, I saw and understood the bold vision and the accruing benefits for our whole city by locating the event/entertainment centre on The Kingsway. It will be the largest city-building project in decades and it will be a transformational turning point for our city.

You basically cannot compare relocating the downtown arena across the street from its present location with The Kingsway location, which will be a 170-acre tourism/event/entertainment and sports district that will attract visitors from across the province and beyond and build a whole new and profitable industry in our city.

If co-located, as planned, with a first-class resort casino, two hotels, a fabulous festival plaza for community gatherings, 2,000 to 3,000+ parking spaces, a professional basketball team, the new Fabio Belli Fieldhouse and a motorsports park (and that’s just for starters), the event/entertainment centre on The Kingsway will by itself attract 30+ international- level concerts in conjunction with the casino. 

By comparison, last year, our current arena downtown hosted nine modest concerts.

What’s more, The Kingsway project will create approximately 2,700 jobs, both construction and casino, a few million in new taxes, and a possible additional $3 million or more from casino revenues for our city. That should be more than plenty to “carry the mortgage.”

For years now, our tourism department has been chasing that elusive “second night” for visitors to our city. This development will certainly encourage our retail and entertainment tourists to spend that one more night in our city, shopping, taking in sporting and concert events or visiting the Casino, effectively doubling our tourism numbers. That is a huge impact, not only on our city’s economy but on its national profile.

Furthermore, I support a second pad on The Kingsway, which is recommended by our Parks, Open Spaces and Leisure Master Plan, a city report wherein the many advantages of multi-pad arenas are addressed. The city’s Arena Renewal Strategy notes that “multi-pad arenas provide greater support to sport development and tourism and also benefit from operational efficiencies. Any future arena construction should give strong consideration to the benefits of multi-pad designs where supported by demand.” 

The South End benefits from a double-pad arena and so could our New Sudbury/Minnow Lake neighbourhoods. Here is our golden opportunity for much-needed arena facility renewal.

As councillor for Ward 11, I would gladly champion the relocation of the current Carmichael Arena to The Kingsway in a brand-spanking new arena just minutes away and re-purposing the current arena on Bancroft into a year-round sports facility, adjacent to our skateboard park, baseball fields and tennis courts. 

I like hubs. I am not a fan of inefficient, expensive and inconvenient stand-alone facilities, scattered all over our large city. And I like to see our facilities used year-round, not just for a few months.

Right now, we have eight sports organizations looking for a place to call home: the Sudbury District Soccer Club; the Sudbury Indoor Football League; Slopitch National; the Sudbury Sport and Social Club; Futsal Canada; and Sudbury Handball, just to name a few. The current Carmichael Arena could accommodate one or several of these teams.

The Kingsway location could also be designed to bolt on additional ice pads to the centre in the future. What we build today will need to serve the community for several decades. We need to have that inscrutable long-term vision of our city’s future needs. We owe it not only to our children but even to our future citizens.

I want to be perfectly clear that while I support the site on The Kingsway, I have always been a true booster of the downtown, having served on the downtown BIA board, on the Board of Directors of the Downtown Village Development Corporation (DVDC), the Sudbury Arts Council and the Greater Sudbury Economic Development Corporation.

I am passionate about our downtown, but building an event centre there is not the answer to the downtown’s revitalization and, in my opinion, is not the right location if we want to build an extensive sports entertainment and tourism industry. It will simply not generate the excitement, the growth and the benefits our city needs. 

There is not enough space, enough convenient parking and at this time, there is no room to grow, not even to locate a second pad. Parking structures are very expensive — $35 million — and we would need a few of them. It’s simply too much to ask of our taxpayers.

No amount of buttons, posters or lawn signs will convince me that the parking lot across from the current arena is the right location. We are not replacing a community arena. We are building a whole new complex – a whole new industry.

I want to see us continue to work hard on revitalizing our downtown and I am confident that three of our four ‘Large Projects’ will be located in the downtown – the Place des Arts, our new Library/Art Gallery and a Convention Centre. 

By splitting the economic targets — one in the downtown and one on the Kingsway — we will now have two economic zones spinning, growing and contributing  to our city’s economy for many years to come.

This important city-building decision will be made at our Council meeting of June 27, 2017 at 6 p.m. Join us at Eastlink Channel 10 or click here.

Lynne Reynolds represents Ward 11 on the city council of Greater Sudbury.