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Letter: Zulich has vision, but a downtown event centre builds for the future

Downtown is centrally located and accessible to all

As a city, we have long been starved of a passionate vision for our future. For too long, there has been a lack of strong leadership and a dearth of inspirational, city-building projects to get us all excited for the future. 

Dario Zulich’s arrival on the scene has brought a lot of that much-needed passion into our community; he’s given a lot of people something to dream about. He has put a vision forward, and we should all commend him for it. He’s inspired us collectively and has re-energized sports culture in Sudbury. For that alone, he deserves an honorary place in the Sudbury Sports Hall of Fame. That being said, owning sports teams is a private business venture — one focused on maximizing profits — whereas building and managing our future event centre is a community project, one where the focus must be on the overall health of our city and its citizenry. 

The public discussion around our new arena has been positioned as “us vs. them.” That is wrong and divisive. We are all in this together. Our choice isn’t merely between a downtown location or another location, it’s between moving towards the future or perpetuating past mistakes. It’s a choice between growing and strengthening our city or encouraging further urban sprawl. A choice between building on existing momentum or pulling the rug out from under our own feet. A choice between a city that believes in itself or one that throws in the towel. 

I, for one, and so many others, believe in this great city. We believe in building on the cultural and entrepreneurial momentum that we’ve seen downtown over the past decade. We believe that a new event centre should be centrally located and accessible to all of Greater Sudbury. 

We believe that a new community arena, by its very definition, needs to be an integral part of the community it serves. It should not try to recreate or relocate an already vibrant and growing entertainment district elsewhere. 

We are energized by the fact that more and more people, including economists, architects, entrepreneurs, urban planners and Sudburians from all over, are taking note of the many facts, such as largest economic impact, greatest accessibility, strong population density and better traffic flow, that all point towards downtown as the best location for our new Event Centre.

Since the Jim Gordon era, we’ve been allergic to the word “taxes” and have been afraid of investing in the cultural infrastructure that we so desperately need. This should be cause for alarm. Our children will leave this community if we don’t leave them anything to enjoy. We’ve become so obsessed with the idea of minimizing the next generations’ debt that we’ve forgotten to give them a reason to even stick around.

Let’s change that. Let’s invest in our future and do what’s best for all of Greater Sudbury. We deserve it.

Christian Pelletier
Co-founder of We Live Up Here
Partner at Studio123