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Opponents of Sudbury arena project drop court appeal

Onerous legal costs prompts settlement, planning tribunal hearing to continue on Kingsway Entertainment District
(Conceptual of Kingsway Entertainment District)

A prominent opponent of a proposed Sudbury arena and entertainment complex has withdrawn his court appeal, citing significant legal costs.

Sudbury businessman Tom Fortin has abandoned his appeal of an Ontario Superior Court decision that rejected his arguments that the city was biased and acted in bad faith in its decision to select the east end of the city as the site for the Kingsway Entertainment District.

“The appeal would have cost an estimated $200,000,” said Fortin in a statement.

“Further, a significant costs award would be added in the likely event of losing the appeal. The appeal of this decision would have resulted in only a delay of the process, which is something we have pledged not to do from the start of this campaign.”

Fortin said the City of Greater Sudbury was seeking costs of more than $200,000 from the original decision. His group, Casino Free Sudbury, offered a settlement to the city in exchange for withdrawing the appeal.

"Thus, the appeal has been withdrawn and the issue of costs of the application have been resolved on agreement between the parties. The terms of the agreement are confidential.”

Justice Gregory Ellies dismissed Fortin’s challenge of the project in a decision released in September. Fortin filed an appeal of the decision in early October.

With this move, the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) process, which was on hold as well as delayed by the pandemic, can move ahead.

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At an LPAT hearing into the matter in September, Gordon Petch, Fortin’s lawyer in both the Superior Court case and the tribunal process, asked the LPAT not to return its decision until the Superior Court appeal had been heard and addressed.

The City of Greater Sudbury's Official Plan amendment that permits a casino is being challenged as is the rezoning decision city council passed to permit the casino on the site.

Those decisions are being appealed by Fortin, the Downtown Sudbury BIA and Sudbury resident Christopher Duncanson-Hales. All are represented by Petch.

In his submissions, Petch said his clients represent small business owners who would be adversely affected by building the Kingsway Entertainment District.

Sudbury resident Steve May is also appealing the rezoning amendment needed to permit an arena to be built at the site. He is representing himself at the tribunal.

The groups are fighting to stop the casino from being built on the site as well as city council's decision to move the arena from downtown Sudbury to the Kingsway. 

Fortin, representing a group called Casino Free Sudbury, has been campaigning against the idea of a standalone casino in the city for years due to the social and economic impacts, preferring that gaming remain at Sudbury Downs in Chelmsford.