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Despite opposition, Project Now group to present plans at Oct. 6 meeting

‘What are we afraid of?’ asks councillor who tabled motion
3rd Line Studio released plans to renovate and expand the Sudbury Community Arena at a cost 40-per-cent cheaper than building a new arena on The Kingsway. (Supplied)

The group behind Project Now will present their idea to city council on Oct. 6, despite an attempt to postpone the presentation until the New Year.

3rd Line Studio released plans to renovate and expand the Sudbury Community Arena at a cost 40-per-cent cheaper than building a new arena on The Kingsway.

Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland and Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti tabled a motion on Tuesday night to have 3rd Line attend the Oct. 6  city council meeting as a community delegation to explain their project in greater detail. They also wanted the city’s large projects management team to evaluate the plan and report back to council while focusing on three questions:

-Will the Project Now Plan result in a multi-function event centre suitable to the city’s needs as prescribed in the 2017 PWC report?

-Are the timelines associated with the Project Now plan feasible?

-Is the cost structure of the Project Now plan reasonable and accurate based on current information?

The idea was to have staff present their report to council at that same meeting.

City Clerk Eric Labelle told council he couldn’t consider 3rd Line’s presentation as a community delegation, as the matter has been dealt with already. A bylaw states delegations will not be included on an agenda where opportunities for public input have been provided by way of public hearings, open houses, surveys or other ways of civil engagement.

There were opportunities as far back as 2015 for groups to come to council and present ideas, said Labelle, although it’s in councils’ power to allow them to present their project. 

Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan tabled his own motion, asking that the presentation and subsequent staff report be deferred until January or February of next year. The motion was defeated, however.

“I don’t believe we should be able to bring in anyone to make a presentation, especially in this particular case,” Kirwan said. “This group went around to meet with councillors individually. They did not meet with me, I can tell you that. I have not seen the presentation, yet, the implication is they went around to everyone on council and now they are going to come forward and present their plan to council, which has already seen it.”

Instead, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Atlmann suggested they split up the presentation and the report, with 3rd Line presenting their plans and then council discussing further a report from staff.

“This project has not been presented to council, it has been selectively presented to certain councillors, and that gives me red flags, and that needs to be rectified,” she said. “I would not support bringing a report to the Oct. 6 meeting. I would say we bring the presentation on Oct. 6, and the rest can be discussed at a later time.”

McCausland said he’d be happy to split up the presentation and the report.

“The motion does not ask for any change, but only to investigate the idea and numbers and verify them in our own way,” McCausland said.

Signoretti said the only thing council would be asking for is to allow the group to come and give a presentation. 

“That’s it, and then we will see what the questions and answer will be after that,” Signoretti said. “What are we scared of? Are we afraid that the information being brought forward would be valid information? We would be remiss in this new COVID-19 world to not look at this. We don’t know what sports and entertainment will look like two or three years down the road. If we don’t even consider this, and we turn a blind eye to it, I think we’re doing a disservice to the people who elected us.”

That did not deter Kirwan from his stance on voting down the presentation entirely.

“We have to vote this down in its entirety,” Kirwan said. “If we support this, we’re going against the advice from the clerk, who said if it was his choice, he wouldn’t allow the presentation.

“What’s the public going to think? We made this decision back in 2015, and we’re on track to implementing our plan from 2017, and now we’re going to entertain presentations from people who are trying to get us to change our mind. We just can’t do this, it’s unacceptable.”

Also against the presentation was Coun. Bill Leduc, who said with the anticipated decision from the Local Planning Act Tribunal coming sometime in December, it wouldn’t make sense to have a report looking into the specifics of Project Now presented before then.

And, regardless of the information presented on Oct. 6, Leduc said he isn’t going to be changing his decision from 2017 in support of the KED.

“I’m fully backing the KED 100 per cent,” he said. “I will uphold my predecessor’s decision in supporting the KED.”

Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo said not only could he not support deferring the presentation until the New Year, he couldn’t support the motion at all. 

This is not just going back on one decision, this is going back on three decisions,” he said. “Push it down the road further? No. This group already had the opportunity to contact all councillors. This is not a community delegation, because groups like this already had the opportunity.”

Voting against the motion to have the group present their plans was councillors Al Sizer, Mike Jakubo, Leduc and Kirwan.

Arron Pickard

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