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Letter: KED should be a referendum question in the next municipal election

The entertainment world is changing fast and nobody wants to blow hundreds of millions of dollars on buildings that won’t be viable or sustainable in five or 10 years, says reader
Artists representation of Kingsway Entertainment District.

“To KED or not to KED will be the question” of many people and groups over the next year, at least until next year’s municipal election. 

I think this question should be a focus, but I don’t think it should be a political focus. 

I and many others think the question should be taken out of the councillors’ hands and decided by referendum like the store hours/Boxing Day conundrum. 

I think the referendum should be helped by council by becoming fully transparent and getting all the available information out there.

The information promised in January, requested in February and ignored in June’s PwC report should be properly completed, examined and assessed ... by the people - not council. 

Council has shown that, individually, they don’t know how to do “due diligence.” 

When the mayor promised a re-examination at the beginning of the year, he was essentially promising “due diligence” in light of the unknown effects of COVID on social and cultural aspects of how society interacts, the perennially looming climate crises, and changing economic forecasts in the city and the effect of new tech on gambling and spectator activities. 

These should all be examined because the entertainment world is changing fast and nobody wants to blow hundreds of millions of dollars on buildings that won’t be viable or sustainable in five or 10 years.

Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann said early in the year, after Bigger’s promises, that she thought it was a really good idea to examine the old decision through these new lenses. 

Then, five months later, without seeing any of the results of the report herself, nor being able to share the report’s analysis with her constituents because it wasn’t complete yet ... she polled these as yet uninformed constituents and brought back to the table purportedly 500 responses (that she doesn't submit to the record) - to say that her constituents, along with some from other wards, “want KED!”

She made a point of saying that she had arrived at her tally before the report came out. This is the exact opposite of “due diligence.” 

Same with Coun. Rene Lapierre. He added his request to the report in February and even though his concerns weren’t properly addressed in the report, his contribution on June 16 was to say that what he heard at the doors was “build KED.” 

But when was he at the doors? Three years ago! He said “it’s what we were elected on.” 

This contribution of his, that was offered on report night, was not a reflection on the report, as due diligence demands. 

It was more like saying, “the report be damned, we don’t care that it’s missing what I asked for, we hafta do what was decided four years ago.” 

Again this is not the due diligence that was offered by the mayor in January, and promised in February. 

At least half the councillors and the mayor are not doing their jobs, and that’s what this case is about. 

An immediate promise of a referendum, and a full release and transparency of all available information and access to any new, relevant information would take the KED question out of political hands and let a clear, informed decision be made by the people of Greater Sudbury themselves.

Several of the pro-KED councillors could even get re-elected if 1) they demonstrate openness by encouraging a referendum 2) allow themselves to get votes from both KED and anti-KED constituents. 

There are a few who would probably like to not have to depend their important constituency work on one singular question of pro- or anti-KED.

Stephen MacLean