A new committee of Greater Sudbury city council is being set up to find the “best way of streamlining and of encouraging investment in Sudbury.”
So described Mayor Paul Lefebvre, who used Thursday’s Fireside Chat event with the Northeastern Ontario Construction Association to announce the new five-member committee.
“It’s a big exercise, but I think it’s a positive way of affecting change,” he told Sudbury.com after delivering his address at Verdicchio Ristorante, adding that his goal is for the committee to present recommended changes to municipal bylaws by the end of the year.
The committee would host five to seven meetings this year to learn from local industry leaders, with priority given to those with experience working for other municipalities.
“What is going on elsewhere?” Lefebvre asked. “How are they doing things different from what’s going on here, and why is that the case, so we have a better understanding.”
Lefebvre said that with many regulations provincially mandated, he wants the committee to narrow in on what the municipality can actually accomplish.
In concert with the committee’s work, Lefebvre said an internal team at city hall will work with their counterparts in other municipalities to dig out best practices for Greater Sudbury to adopt.
Reflecting on Lefebvre’s address, Northeastern Ontario Construction Association executive director Mark Kivinen told Sudbury.com he is “very optimistic,” and that Lefebvre has “hit the ground running” since he was elected to head city council on Oct. 24, 2022.
“He is so engaged with the community and understands what the community wants and needs, and also has the ability to not stay stagnant, to open up and don’t be just locked in your little bubble,” Kivinen said, adding that the upcoming committee should aid in this effort.
“There are other municipalities that are doing things better than us, and we are doing some things better than them,” he said. “I think we understand now that if we’re going to promote growth, we’ve got to open up the city a little more.”
Thursday night’s speech and subsequent question and answer period highlighted an ongoing concern within the local construction industry of so-called “red tape” at city hall, which Lefebvre said city council’s upcoming committee will strive to suss out.
Ward 5 Coun. Mike Parent has also addressed “red tape” in a motion greenlit by city council in February, which will see the city partner with the Greater Sudbury Chamber of Commerce to investigate ways of streamlining processes for businesses.
During his speech, Lefebvre cited recent progress on the Employment Land Strategy and a $1.25-million interim fix approved for Fielding Road, which services one of the city’s industrial hubs, as recent signs of city council support for tackling economic growth.
“We’re serious about this,” Lefebvre said, adding that the work on Fielding Road is a solid investment that will help ensure clients and those working in the area won’t have to wear a mouthguard while navigating the pothole-filled road.
Earlier this week, city council approved a public consultation plan for a new tax incentive called the Employment Land Community Improvement Plan, which Lefebvre cited as another recent move toward spurring economic activity. Sudbury.com will be publishing an in-depth report on the proposal soon.
Tapping into the value-added market when it comes to battery-electric vehicles, the city’s infrastructure deficit, its collection of aging facilities, a need for housing across the continuum, and a need for employees in a local economy in which there are approximately 3,500 unfilled jobs right now, were also hot topics during tonight’s speaking engagement.
Lefebvre said all of these issues and more will need to be dealt with to help meet his ultimate goal of increasing Greater Sudbury’s population to 200,000 within 20 years.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.