The words of City of Greater Sudbury staff and elected officials should provide enough evidence to prove the latest decision on the Kingsway Entertainment District should not stand.
This, according to the Minnow Lake Restoration Group’s latest step in pursuing a judicial review of city council’s handling of the KED.
Through Gillespie Law, the organization filed their evidence to the court and the city’s lawyers on Sept. 17, which was comprised almost entirely of transcripts of City of Greater Sudbury elected officials and staff from public meetings.
The Minnow Lake Restoration Group issued a press release on the matter today, which they note as being “on the eve of the Mayor Bigger State of the City address.”
Highlighted in the release is a sampling of the transcripts they’ve filed as evidence in the latest step of the legal proceedings they announced last month.
The crux of their argument is that councillors requested specific information about the KED to be included in a PricewaterhouseCoopers report, that they were assured it would be included and that it was not.
During council’s July 14 meeting, a divided council approved a resolution that directed staff to move forward with the next steps involved in the KED.
In passing this resolution, “the Mayor, Council and Senior Staff made numerous errors in law,” a notice of application for judicial review by the Minnow Lake Restoration Group notes, alleging failure to comply with the rules of procedural fairness, failing to disclose relevant and material information “that had it been known would have likely affected the result,” and “proceeding hastily, without proper consideration of the matters in issue,” among other things.
The evidence released publicly today outlines the organization’s key grievances in what transpired during the meetings of city council that led to July 14 vote.
During a meeting on Feb. 9, Ward 4 Coun. Geoff McCausland requested that a Climate Energy and Emissions Plan be included in the PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
In response, Ian Wood, the city’s executive director of Strategic Initiatives, Communications and Citizen Service, said that although the “lens is not fully developed,” he understood council’s intent. He concluded, “I think this is an appropriate request to give that consideration through this process and incorporate it into the June report.”
During this same meeting, Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre requested that the report include an economic impact assessment, to which Wood responded, “I can indicate that the economic impact analysis will be more robust in this report than in 2017.”
Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann requested that the owner of the hotel be identified and that council know of the financial situation regarding Gateway, which was to establish a casino at the KED.
“Our intention is to provide up-to-date information on our partner’s commitment, yes, as part of this report,” Wood responded.
On these and other things to be included in the report, McCausland asked, “Do we require an amendment to ensure that those will be part of this report, or is it understood and we will be quite confident that they will come forward in the June report?”
After a short back and forth between Mayor Brian Bigger and Wood about understanding the livestream, Wood said, “I think council can rely on us to incorporate those types of considerations within the report.”
The transcriptions included in the Minnow Lake Restoration Group’s evidence highlights the resulting frustration expressed by some councillors during the June 16, June 29 and July 14 meetings of council when the information they requested was not included in the report.
These frustrations have continued, as highlighted during a recent informal poll of city councillors by Sudbury.com.
With the evidence filed, lawyer Eric Gillespie told Sudbury.com by phone earlier today that it’ll be up to the city to make a decision on whether it wants to file any additional information for consideration.
With that, he said the matter should proceed to an actual court hearing.
“We are in discussions with the city — the court has encouraged us to do it that way — and if we’re unable to reach an agreement the court has said that the court will assist us, but right now we’re in active discussion with the city and still hoping we can deal with the scheduling without having the court to help.”
The ultimate goal, he said, is for “the city to follow the process that at least some members of council and some members of public anticipated was going to happen.”
Gillespie said the legal process could take days, weeks or months, and that “at this point, our client’s certainly open to any options that the city would like to discuss.”
The City of Greater Sudbury’s communications staff did not respond to a request for comment.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.