Legal challenges associated with the Kingsway Entertainment District have cost the City of Greater Sudbury approximately $850,000 to date.
This, city solicitor Kelly Gravelle clarified at Tuesday’s city council meeting, does not include an ongoing legal challenge by the Minnow Lake Restoration Group, which has come at a cost of approximately $5,000 to this stage of proceedings.
The city’s legal expenses perhaps most notably includes a legal challenge that reached the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, which dismissed all appeals of the project late last year.
"It's ended up exactly how I felt it would and should end up,” Mayor Brian Bigger said at the time. “So basically none of the appeals raised against the KED in either Superior Court or the LPAT appeals were valid."
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment and the developer have also enlisted their own lawyers, whose associated costs are separate from whatever the city has paid.
As for the Minnow Lake Restoration Group legal challenge in which the organization alleges that mayor, council and senior staff made numerous errors in law and left numerous inquiries by councillors unanswered, Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyn Landry-Altmann strived to clarify matters during Tuesday’s meeting.
Taking aim at “the media” for recent reports that noted the court has recommended parties work it out between themselves, she asked Gravelle whether this was the case.
“There’s been no direction at all – the parties haven’t had any discussions like that and there’s been nothing directed by the court to that effect either,” Gravelle said.
Last week, lawyer Eric Gillespie, who is representing the Minnow Lake Restoration Group, told Sudbury.com, “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.”
On Wednesday, Gillespie affirmed that this statement was accurate and that on Aug. 18 the divisional court directed him as follows:
“The parties are to confer to agree upon a schedule for exchange of appeal materials and to provide their agreed schedule to the court by Aug. 27, 2021. If a schedule cannot be agreed then the parties shall schedule a case management teleconference with the court.”
Gillespie confirmed Wednesday that an agreed-upon schedule has yet to be provided to the court.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the only insight Sudbury.com has received from the city regarding the Minnow Lake Restoration Group pursuing a judicial review of city council’s handling of the KED was a written statement issued last week, which read: “The City considers the Application to be without merit and will defend against it with a view to concluding the matter quickly.”
Another ongoing legal matter related to the KED is Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier’s recent allegation that he was “offered a financial conflict of interest” to support the Kingsway location for the project in 2017.
Although Montpellier has subsequently denied he was offered a bribe, city council decided during its Sept. 14 meeting to have police investigate Montpellier’s claim.
On Tuesday, Montpellier said the matter has “escalated to tabloid fodder” and that he has already had lengthy conversations with lawyers on the matter, which the OPP is expected to investigate.
“I don’t know how long this is going to take,” he said.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Ward 2 Coun. Michael Vagnini expressed concern regarding Gateway Casinos & Entertainment due to past legal action, asking whether the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation still stands behind it.
Sudbury.com reached out to the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario’s communications team with Vagnini’s inquiry on Wednesday.
The AGCO regulates and oversees the slots and casino locations in the province that are conducted and managed by the OLG. Their objective is to “ensure that all casino gaming is operated within the law and with honesty and integrity and in the broader public interest.”
Gateway Casinos & Entertainment is an AGCO-registered gaming operator, a spokesperson clarified, adding that compliance is assessed among registered operators on an ongoing basis.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.