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Minnow Lake Restoration group taking city to court over KED

Through its lawyer, committee alleges city councillors and staff made ‘numerous errors of law’ in proceeding with Kingsway Entertainment District
301118_KED-artists-representation
Artists representation of Kingsway Entertainment District. (Supplied)

New legal action has been filed against the City of Greater Sudbury related to the Kingsway Entertainment District.

The city’s elected officials have not had all relevant information available during their decision-making processes, according to a notice of application for judicial review filed Aug. 13 by the Minnow Lake Restoration Committee (MLRC).

“It’s certainly our client’s view that a full and proper understanding of the issues might well lead to a different outcome in terms of the site selection,” said the committee’s lawyer, Eric Gillespie in an interview.

During a July 14 council meeting, Greater Sudbury city council gave staff the OK to proceed with the next steps of the KED project, including the finalization of the integrated site plan, design of intersections, engineering work on the storm water management system, reviewing the site preparation contract with BOT Construction and issuing a request for expressions of interest to select an operator for the event centre.

In making this decision, members of council joined city staff in making “numerous errors of law,” according to the application for judicial review, MLRC is arguing in its suit.

In the application for judicial review, MLRC argues through its lawyer these errors include “failing to comply with the rules of procedural fairness, including limiting discussion and questions during the council proceedings” and “failing to disclose relevant and material information, that had it been known, would likely have affected the result.”

"Some of the questions that were raised but not answered deal with some very fundamental issues,” Gillespie said. 

"Without those answers it might be a case where the cart is being put before the horse."

One of the key areas of concern he cites as inadequately addressed in council chambers regards the potential impacts of road salts on Ramsey Lake. 

"Road salt, a few years ago, was put on the federal government's priority substances list," he said. "That's the same list that PCBs and dioxins and other very hazardous substances are on."

This, Minnow Lake Restoration Group president John Lindsay said, has been an ongoing concern among members of the non-profit charitable organization mandated with improving water quality.

Although he deferred all comment related to ongoing legal action to Gillespie, Lindsay offered some context regarding their environmental concerns with the KED. 

The proposed site for the entertainment district, which would include parking for thousands of vehicles, is within a recharge area for the nearby Ramsey Lake, which feeds the city’s drinking water and already suffers from unusually high levels of salt.

The City of Greater Sudbury cites a proposed 1,250 dedicated parking spaces related to the arena/event centre and an additional 1,400 spaces in overflow parking within 400 metres of the building’s entrance.

Whatever road salt is applied to parking lots and adjoining roadways will inevitably flow through the watershed and into Ramsey Lake, Lindsay said.

"There are parking spaces already around the lake ... and they're still receiving salt into the lake on a regular basis, so what the ... watershed groups have recommended is that there be no more additional parking spots around the lake or developments."

This is the same argument MLRC attempted to put before the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal case against the KED project, which was rejected by the LPAT in April 2020.

The dismissal remains a point of contention with the group.

"Had our appeal gone ahead with the LPAT ... three years ago now, that might have been a deciding factor, because the environment is the No. 1 concern with people these days,” Lindsay said.

On Monday, the day their legal action was publicly announced, Gillespie said they’d heard back from the court, which had accepted the judicial review’s filing and asked the parties to consult within the next 10 days or so about a proposed schedule.

"We would hope that this case could be heard later this year,” he said. 

"If it's successful, it would result in the matter being referred back to the municipal council so that the procedural concerns, if they're upheld by the court, could be then reviewed by the city.”

Mayor Brian Bigger’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.