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Council meeting cut short, Bigger calls for special projects meeting on the KED

Mayor wants to ensure that council has all the correct information before taking any steps forward on Kingsway Entertainment District
Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger called for a special projects meeting on the Kingsway Entertainment District to be held in the second quarter of this year. (File)

Greater Sudbury council held one of their shortest meetings in recent memory Tuesday evening, adjourning after less than 20 minutes.

Councillors met in closed session for several hours prior to Tuesday's meeting and council proceedings didn't get underway until around 8:50 p.m. despite being scheduled for 6 p.m.

When the meeting was called to order, mayor Brian Bigger did most of the talking, touching on some pressing issues that he and council have in front of them, while also calling for a special projects meeting on the Kingsway Entertainment District.

"We've been working really hard on a number of fronts and we've been tackling some really big challenges in our community," said Bigger.

"We've been seeing many challenges with the opioid crisis in our community and we've been doing our best and we'll continue to protect the homeless and we've also been working hard to protect our residents from COVID-19."

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a state of emergency on Jan. 12 that will be in effect for 28 days, along with a stay at home order that will come into effect on Jan. 14 at 12:01 a.m.

"Modelling unveiled today suggests that we could be in for a very difficult number of months before mass vaccinations can take place, including here in Greater Sudbury," said Bigger.

"I really want to add that Dr. Sutcliffe and Dominic Giroux and their respective teams are working diligently with city teams, getting the vaccines, getting prepared for the vaccines when they come and we're hoping to get the vaccines as soon as possible."

While no items on the consent agenda were debated and no resolutions were passed Tuesday night, the mayor did make it clear that there will be a meeting in the second quarter of this year to lay out the facts associated with the Kingsway Entertainment District.

"It's too large a priority for our community and something we should be making sure we get right and in that vein I will be opening with a request," said Bigger. 

"As council and as a community we've all waited for the legal and various other processes to conclude on the Kingsway Entertainment District and in recent weeks we've seen an enormous amount of public and council discussion, data, information, facts, letters regarding this project, and the reality is much has changed since 2017."

The mayor commended the community for its resilience in the face of COVID-19, and the unprecedented circumstances that have come with it.

"COVID-19 has had a significant impact, we owe it to our citizens and ourselves to ensure that we have correct information to make some very big decisions in the coming months," said Bigger.

One of the project's biggest supporters on council has been Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, who spoke with following Tuesday's meeting. Kirwan was supportive of Bigger's suggestion for a special projects meeting and called it a "good leadership move".

"I like the idea, I think we've got to put things on hold until we're all ready to move forward, nobody can predict when we're going to come out of this pandemic," said Kirwan. "This is just saying let's stop all the back and forth stuff and let's get all of the data and make sure we get all of the information and a special report that's going to be detailed and we can have a special meeting and say 'ok here it is, no rumours, these are the facts'."

The meeting has not been scheduled, but Bigger says that he would like to have it in the second quarter, which runs from April to June. Kirwan feels that the meeting will likely fall toward the end of quarter two.

"Probably closer to June; we know that everybody is totally committed but who can predict when you want to have the facility completed?" said Kirwan. 

"You don't want to have a facility completed and have it empty because nobody can come. Had we gone forward with all the plans that we could've gone forward with and didn't have all these appeals, we'd be opening this summer, how bad would that be? That would've been the worst thing." reached out to Mayor Brian Bigger and other members of council for comment but did not receive a response.