Sudbury city council took the next step forward in the development of a new library-art gallery and synergy centre in the city's downtown.
Meeting Tuesday, Sept. 12 council passed three resolutions with regards to the proposed downtown development, giving Director of Economic Development Ian Wood the reigns on the project moving forward.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the site selection criteria that has been laid out by Wood's department, but not without raising a few questions as to the weighting and importance of certain criteria.
Atop the list of site criteria for the synergy centre is a new hotel development and access to accommodations, along with visibility, which both hold the distinction "of highest importance". Parking on the other hand, fell into the third tier, "highly important", while site size, ease of development, and environmental site factors all ranked in the fourth tier.
"For the synergy centre, the highest importance is the new hotel development, so I'm assuming that it would be in concert with, or the private sector would be assuming some of the costs?" said Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann.
"You'll note that it's not just new hotel development, but also access to accommodations," said Director of Economic Development Ian Wood.
"Certainly in our work with the consultant and what you would have seen in the business plan, is that access or proximity to hotel rooms is critical for the success of a conference centre, that's why it scored so highly. It's not only if there's a new hotel but also with existing hotels in that proximity, so they both fit into that mix there."
The second resolution on the agenda in relation to the synergy centre was the only one that brought about some contention between councillors, as Ward 1 Coun. Mark Signoretti wasn't on board with handing over the task of developing a business plan to CBRE Limited on a single-source basis.
"I'm not a big fan of single-sourcing and just for the public's sake can we get an explanation on that?"
Wood explained that the decision was made to go with CBRE in order to meet the timelines expressed by council.
"When we met with council near the end of June, you'll recall that we presented you with a timeline to produce a full report back to you in 12 months," said Wood.
"Council at the time directed the CAO to accelerate that timeline and asked if we could make it happen in this calendar year. We looked at going forward with an RFP for the synergy project; when back-dated and looked at the length of time require to issue the RFP, get them back, score and evaluate, and get the consultant up and running, we would not be in the position to get back to you by the end of the year."
Signoretti and Ward 3 Coun. Gerry Montpellier were both in favour of following the process of going to an RFP when it came to selecting a consultant, a stance not shared by Ward 5 Coun. Robert Kirwan.
"With a recommendation that we single-source to the consultant that has been working with this project all along, and staff has told us that they can have this back in front of us a with decision on the site and design by Nov. 21," said Kirwan.
"Why in the name of all that is good in this earth are we interested in delaying this process? Staff is comfortable, everything is falling in place so that the sports and entertainment district can come together at the same time as the arts and cultural district and we can be moving forward with a synergy that this city has never seen. Let's stop delaying and stop confusing staff."
The resolution to move forward with a single-source was passed 8-3 with councillors Signoretti, Montpellier, and Landry-Altmann voting in opposition.
Council voted unanimously in favour of delegating Wood the authority to negotiate, execute and subsequently amend or extend any agreements, including, without limitation, agreements for cost sharing, professional and consulting service and for non-competitive purchases with a total acquisition cost of $50,000 or more including instruments, assurances and any other documents as may be necessary to complete the Synergy Centre and Library-Art Gallery Projects.
Full report can be found here.