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Letter: Hats off to Ward 9 councillor for public KED hesitancy

Reader appreciates Ward 9 Coun. Deb. McIntosh’s decision to abstain on a recent Kingsway Entertainment District vote 
Deb McIntosh is the Greater Sudbury city councillor for Ward 9.

I am very glad that Ward 9 Coun. Deb McIntosh expressed her hesitancy by abstaining/voting no on the most recent council vote concerning the progress of the Kingsway Entertainment District.

She seems to be conflicted between having serious questions about the process, versus honouring the fact that once a majority of council members have voted to proceed with a motion, it needs to be honoured as if it was unanimous, and it is the will of council as a whole. 

It doesn’t mean she can no longer have questions.

Ward 10 Coun. Fern Cormier is respecting that fact as well, as he said in the meeting, though he, too, has serious questions to be answered before proceeding. 

Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland, Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini and Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier are also honoring the commitment, though they aren’t ready to say “yes” to every aspect of the way it’s being done.

This is because respecting that 2017 decision by council to develop the KED shouldn’t mean “yes” to everything that’s brought to council about the project. 

Should they be saying yes to a 20-per-cent increase in cost? How about a 30-per-cent increase? What if they were asked to proceed with the arena without a casino or hotel?

A new arena, in 2015, was supposed to cost $65 million. The 2017 True North version was supposed to cost $80 million. Now they’re talking about $100+ million, which could be $150 million with interest and possibly another $30 million in 30 years of yearly losses.

The six pro-KED councillors and Mayor Brian Bigger are saying “yes” to everything. The builders and developer are going to catch on and ask for anything they want, because now this council can’t say “no.”

As they say in poker, the pro-KED councillors and the mayor are “pot-committed”. 

Their reputations and their word are on the line and they are willing to break the bank, and the taxpayer’s backs, to keep their commitment to KED. 

They can’t say no.

I am proud of Coun. McIntosh for carefully considering her vote. She had the right to vote “no,” and the obligation to vote “no,” if she had questions about how things were proceeding.

When she voted “yes” in July, it was to some very specific asks. Centrally, they were asking to proceed with arranging contracts for how to proceed.

Contrary to what Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan and others say, this July vote was not carte-blanche to come back with whatever they cooked up. It specifically didn’t mean that they could come back with tenuous agreements with mysterious unnamed or unstable partners.

A councillor’s vote for KED in 2017, or to proceed in July 2021, can’t mean “go, no questions asked.”

If it does, this project will grow out of control in price and pain to the taxpayer.

Stephen MacLean
Greater Sudbury