Plans for the Kingsway Entertainment District are moving ahead, city councillors were told Tuesday, despite the planning appeals filed by opponents hoping to stop the project.
Ian Wood said the design/build RFP is in the final stages, and the city is working with PricewaterhouseCoopers on the criteria to evaluate the bids once the document is issued.
“Site design is underway with the three parties involved,” Wood told council.
As has been previously reported, groups opposed to building a casino on the Kingsway, and building the new arena beside it, have appealed to the new Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (which replaced the Ontario Municipal Board this year) in an attempt to block the zoning changes the project requires.
Ward 2 Coun. Mark Signoretti, who has led the fight on council to stop the project, wondered how the LPAT appeals would affect the project.
“How will it impact the process moving forward?” Signoretti asked.
City manager Catherine Matheson, who is heading up the big projects, said the LPAT is a new organization, so there is some uncertainly.
“We are new to this,” Matheson said.
They officially received the appeals on Monday, and are aiming to determine within 10 days whether the appeals have enough merit to proceed, or should be rejected.
City solicitor Kristen Newman said the LPAT has timelines they are aiming for when ruling on planning disputes.
“The LPAT should be issuing decision within 10 months if they determine the appeal is valid,” Newman said. “But it's very early days with the LPAT. We don't have a lot of experience with the timelines.
“Beyond that, we're waiting for a decision.”
Signoretti said he wanted it on the record that he wants to stop all spending on the project until there a decision on the appeals.
Councillors also got an update on the Junction – which is what the combined Synergy Centre, art gallery and library is to be called. Plans are for the Junction to occupy the current Sudbury Arena location.
Wood said they visited British Columbia, where facilities there have the convertible seating system that's envisioned for the Synergy Centre.
“We wanted to understand exactly how this system works,” Wood said. “We were extremely impressed.”
He said they saw two centres in Vancouver that have operated for a combined 25 years.
“They've never missed or delayed a show for technical reasons,” he said. “And it feels like a solid floor.”
Public consultations have been held on plans for the Junction, and a major update on the project is expected at the July 10 city council meeting.