The City of Greater Sudbury is proceeding with the Kingsway Entertainment District at their “own risk and potential peril,” lawyer Eric Gillespie said in a press release this week.
Gillespie’s warning comes after last week’s decision of mayor and council to greenlight site preparation work on the municipal arena-centred entertainment district project.
Of the $9.73-million cost, the city will commit $5.6 million, Gateway Casinos & Entertainment will spend $2.2 million, the hotel share is $1.1 million and the developer’s share is $530,000.
Gillespie represents the Minnow Lake Restoration Group, which is pursuing a judicial review of city council’s handling of the KED. This ongoing legal action alleges that mayor, council and senior staff made numerous errors in law and left inquiries from councillors unanswered.
If successful, the legal challenge would deem a July 14, 2021, vote of city council null and void, which Gillespie said would stop the arena expenditure immediately. The vote in question saw city council vote to give city staff the power to proceed with the project’s subsequent steps.
Last week’s vote regarding site preparation furthered this direction with a narrow vote of 7-6.
Those to vote in favour of last week’s motion included Ward 11 Coun. Bill Leduc, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann, Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan, Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre, Ward 7 Coun. Mike Jakubo, Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer and Mayor Brian Bigger.
These elected officials, Gillespie alleges in a news release, are appearing to ignore “the fiduciary duty they were sworn to uphold, or the fiduciary duty they are compelled to uphold in the 2001 Municipal Act to behave in the interest of the city’s finances.”
Although city solicitor Kelly Gravelle said in response to a question posed by Landry-Altmann during last week’s meeting that less than $5,000 has been spent on the Minnow Lake Restoration Group file, Gillespie notes that much more is at stake.
The Minnow Lake Restoration Group is still waiting on City of Greater Sudbury lawyers to provide direction on an agreed schedule to the court, and Gillespie said there are “several-million dollars of taxpayers’ money at stake if the mayor and his staff continue forward.”
The release cites Bigger in particular as carrying the vote that tipped the narrow vote in the KED’s favour.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.