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'Significant change' in the works for downtown Sudbury

A total of 61 projects have been identified for downtown Sudbury through the city's draft Downtown Master Plan and Action Strategy. The Master Plan draft document had a “soft” launch at the city's planning meeting on Jan. 13.
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The city has released its draft version of its Downtown Master Plan and Action Strategy that will bring “significant changes” over the next 30 years, according to Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour. Submitted photo.
A total of 61 projects have been identified for downtown Sudbury through the city's draft Downtown Master Plan and Action Strategy.

The Master Plan draft document had a “soft” launch at the city's planning meeting on Jan. 13., but city staff delved much deeper into its logistics and the impacts it would have on the community at the Jan. 23 meeting. The plan puts forward 61 possible opportunities to improve downtown Sudbury over the next 30 years, Jason Ferrigan, a senior planner with the city, said.

The final draft plan and action strategy lays out a comprehensive series of actions and initiatives that the city and community can advance to continue to transform the core into an active, safe and diverse destination for people, businesses, not-for-profits, agencies and new investments in all forms.

Highlights include a multi-use conference centre and four-star hotel, a visitor centre, improvements to the Rainbow Centre, and a multi-use recreation centre that would measure at least 55,000 square feet, according to the Master Plan.

Furthermore, renovations to the Sudbury arena have been identified in order to accommodate larger-scale concerts and conventions, new and improved pedestrian and cycling connections, the extension of Larch Street to the west across the rail corridor and the extension of St. Anne Road through to Frood Road.

Another major project would be the relocation of the existing transit terminal to the south end of the downtown, close to Paris Street and Elgin Street. This would make room at the current terminal site for office buildings, according to the plan.

There is potential for “280,000 square feet of office space that could be put into where the city's main transit station is currently located,” Ferrigan said.

A number of parkades are also on this list.

There are three big ideas driving the development of the Master Plan, Ferrigan said.

The first area focused on activity and growth, in particular, attracting investment and activity to the downtown. The short-term goal is to work with existing building stock and to reduce vacancy. The plan is to identify potential for more office spaces, create downtown attractions, make downtown a centre for learning (the School of Architecture will significantly moves this forward, Ferrigan said), and to make it a centre for urban living (between 3,500 to 5,000 new people are expected to live downtown over the next 10 years). There are 18 projects listed in the Master Plan to help achieve this goal.

The second area focused on access and connectivity, with the goal being to connect the downtown to local neighbourhoods and all of Greater Sudbury, as well as to create a more flexible and connected downtown street network, and invest in the infrastructure necessary to support the growth of downtown (parking structures, for example). There are 19 projects listed in the Master Plan to help achieve this goal.

The third area focused on beauty and pride, with the idea to rediscover the city's main streets as a setting for investments and to make them more pedestrian-friendly, to create green downtown destinations, and to reflect Sudbury's story through its heritage and natural beauty. There are many underutilized sites that can be intensified with new use, Ferrigan said. There are 24 projects listed in the Master Plan to help achieve this goal.

About 20 of the projects in the Master Plan can be done in less than 10-years, while a dozen projects can be done in the mid-term timeframe of between 10 and 20 years, Ferrigan said.

The idea is to focus on “quick wins” within the Master Plan, he said, and the 20 projects listed in the short term would “concretely” move the Master Plan forward.

The final draft represents the culmination of more than 16 months of work, featuring a comprehensive examination of existing conditions, opportunities and constraints, an open and iterative community visioning exercise, and detailed planning and design work, according to the city.

“The final draft contains a lot of good ideas to make downtown (Sudbury) the biggest, brightest and best downtown in northern Ontario,” Bill Lautenbach, general manager of growth and development for the City of Greater Sudbury, said in a press release. “We are asking people what they like and look forward to hearing what they think."

The plan paints a compelling picture of what the downtown could look like 30 years from now, Paul Baskcomb, director of planning services for the city, said. It “strikes a balance between the achievable and the visionary.”

The city will play host to a public input session - Speak Up Sudbury - on Tuesday, Jan. 31 from 6-9 p.m. at St. Andrews Place, 111 Larch St.,to provide residents with an opportunity to learn more about and discuss the plan.

The final draft plan is available online at growdowntown.ca/blog.

“The final draft represents the first physical translation of the community's vision for Downtown,” Ferrigan said. “We are looking forward to the Speak Up Sudbury session and hearing what people think. We also hope that the community will discuss the draft on the project website and on the city's Facebook page.”

Ward 7 Coun. Dave Kilgour, who chairs the planning committee, said now is a great time to look at the projects listed in the Master Plan.

“This is an exciting dream for the future,” Kilgour said. “This is a good start that will see dramatic change (in the downtown).”

City staff will bring back the plan to council for consideration in March, and an implementation report would be devised three or four months later.

Posted by Arron Pickard