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Letter: It's not just an arena and it needs to be downtown

Chair of architecture school steering committee says event centre must be 'transformational'
The arena needs to be downtown, argues letter-writer Blaine Nicholls. (Supplied)

Like many Sudburians, I have been following the progress of the Events Centre project with great interest. It’s going to have an important and long lasting impact on our city.

The selection of the best site is the immediate challenge. I believe that the site selection analysis will lead to the selection of a
site in the downtown. There are several sites that can accommodate the project and the downtown is clearly the best long term option both for the community and for the project.

Downtowns are the hearts of communities and this project needs to be there.

As chair of the School of Architecture project steering committee, I was involved in a similar site selection process.

For us, as community members of the School of Architecture project steering committee, there was no question but that the school should be built in the downtown. That was one of the fundamental reasons for creating it in the first place. And that is why the city council of that day, took the bold leap to invest $10 million to help make it happen.

Most importantly, the School of Architecture project was not just about building another educational facility. Its goal was to help transform the city.

And the school has certainly met all of our expectations. The first class of students are graduating in a few weeks. The masters program is commencing this fall. The vast majority of the students and faculty are living in the downtown. And a challenging piece of the city's real estate is now beautifully rejuvenated. The school has played its transformational role.

The events centre project must play a similar transformational role. It cannot be just an arena. It cannot be just an events centre. It must be a true "city building” project. 

We have the opportunity to take another major step towards transforming Sudbury into the vibrant, successful city that it truly can be.
We need to focus on that big picture.

One final observation relates to community involvement. This is a community project. Council, city staff and consultants are necessary to the project development process; however, there must also be genuine community involvement in that process.

The success of the School of Architecture and, more recently, Place des Arts, is largely due to the full support and engagement of community leaders, in the project development process. Serious consideration must be given to ensure that the same engagement happens with the events centre project.

Blaine Nicholls