Good morning, Greater Sudbury! Here are a few stories to start your day on this Friday morning.
City sunk $5.2M into the Kingsway Entertainment District
When all is said and done, the city will have sunk approximately $5.2 million into the Kingsway Entertainment District – a proposed municipal arena/events centre which never came to be. This, according to a report by city engineering services director David Shelsted outlining the project’s wind-down, which city council is poised to discuss during their Aug. 9 meeting. The proposed municipal arena on The Kingsway, which would have been accompanied by a private casino and hotel alongside a shared space called Festival Square, was killed by city council on July 12 after its cost ballooned from its original $100 million to $215 million. The $5.2-million figure includes the $3.76 million previously identified as having been spent on the project, plus $1.44 million required to close out the project. The total is the city’s latest estimate, and a final figure will be reported by the end of the year. All of these costs will be funded from the Event Centre Project capital account, which was fuelled by $90 million in debt the city secured in 2020 at an interest rate of 2.416 per cent.
Vagnini accused of threatening deputy fire chief
Accused of threatening a fire department deputy chief, another alleged breach of the city’s code of conduct has been added to the pile against Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini. The latest accusation is outlined in a report by city integrity commissioner Robert Swayze, in which Vagnini is alleged to have used threatening language in correspondence with deputy chief Jesse Oshell. City council will vote Aug. 9 on whether to approve Swayze’s recommendation that Vagnini be suspended for a period of 40 days commencing with the next pay period. In Swayze’s report, Oshell outlines the contents of a 15-minute phone conversation he had with Vagnini in which Oshell said, “The councillor suggested that in the best interest of fire services and in my best interests, I could recognize that he apologized to me and that we were amicable so that my claim with the integrity commissioner could be withdrawn. It would help with his position on council or if he chose to run for mayor.” On May 2, Vagnini registered to seek re-election in Ward 2 in the Oct. 24 municipal election.
France Gélinas disputes premier's claim about worker shortages
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said his government is doing all it can to find more workers to fill vacancies in the Ontario healthcare system. Ford said in Stratford Wednesday that the province is facing "a generational labour shortage" that is affecting more than 380,000 jobs in several sectors across the province. But NDP health care critic France Gélinas is not buying it. The Nickel Belt MPP said Ford is "downplaying the crisis in Ontario's hospitals to justify his government's lack of action." Gélinas said the staffing shortage in hospitals and other health venues is not because of any generational labour shortage. She said it is because the ruling Progressive Conservatives introduced Bill 124 in 2019. The main concern for Bill 124 is that it put a one-per-cent wage cap, per year, on any increases that could be won by public sector employers, such as registered nurses, registered practical nurses and several other classes of healthcare workers. The limit is for three years.
You can get French accents on your health card now
Franco-Ontarians with French accents in their names can finally have their moniker correctly spelled on their health card as Ontario now offers the option of using French-language characters like accents. The province said it is part of a plan to make French characters available on all identification issued by the Ontario government. French characters are also available for driver’s licences and photo cards. “We are supporting Ontario’s Francophone community and improving their experience when accessing vital government services throughout the province, including health care,” said Sylvia Jones, deputy premier and minister of Health. To change your identification, you can visit any ServiceOntario location to request a replacement health card with the French characters included. There is no charge for making the change. You will be required to show proper supporting identification documents. Need to renew your health card? You can do it online at Ontario.ca/Renew or book an in-person meeting at Ontario.ca/Appointment.
Former Valley East mayor Jean-Yves Robert has passed away
Jean-Yves Robert, who served as mayor of Valley East during a critical time in that community’s growth, passed away July 21. He was 86. In this obituary, Robert’s many contributions to the growth and development of the Valley were noted. “As Mayor of Valley East (circa 1985 to 2000), John’s diligence and drive in promoting his community led to Valley East earning the status of ‘city,’ as well as being recognized as the fastest growing municipality in the Region of Sudbury,” his obituary reads. Robert is survived by his wife, Anne; his children, Chantal Robert (Luc Dalcourt) of Hanmer, François Robert of Sudbury, Alain Robert of Montreal, and Eric Robert (Tara) of Kars; his brother, Rhéal, and; his grandchildren Alexie, Dominic, Kiirsten, Sara-Anne, Venessa, Tessa, Jenna. Robert is great-grandfather to five children. There will be no visitation, but a mass celebration will be held Sept. 15 at 10 a.m. at Ste-Marguerite-D’Youville church followed by a private burial. Donations on Robert’s behalf can be made to Maison McCulloch Hospice.
FedNor funding to boost accessibility at YMCA Sudbury location
A new front desk and extensive renovations to improve accessibility will grace the YWCA Sudbury’s downtown facility later this year, thanks to a funding boost from FedNor. The federal regional development agency announced $195,393 toward the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario during a media event at their 140 Durham Street location on Wednesday. Sudbury Liberal MP Viviane Lapointe made the announcement, noting the organization offers “critical services to people of all ages.” “Local infrastructure investments are so important to building stronger, healthier and more inclusive communities,” she said. “This initiative delivers on all fronts, making our region a better place to live, work, play and visit.” Approximately $60,000 of the funding is staying in Sudbury, while the balance is going to Timmons, where that community’s YMCA building will be fitted with green and structure upgrades designed to increase safety and efficiency and reduce its carbon footprint.
Warm, sunny day to end the work week
Expect a lovely day to end the work week. The forecast calls for a high of 25 today under sunny skies. The humidex value will be about 30. The UV index today is eight, or very high. Tonight, the skies will stay clear and the temperature will dip to 13.