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Sudbury arena opponents keep up the fight in the courts

Planning tribunal adjudicator reserves decision on Sudbury arena development
Kingsway Entertainment District conceptual
Conceptual of the Kingsway Entertainment District, Sudbury's proposed arena complex.

The proposed development of a new Sudbury arena still remains in legal and construction limbo.

The head of a provincial planning tribunal is reserving his decision on whether the City of Greater Sudbury acted within local and provincial planning rules in approving the site for the KIngsway Entertainment District (KED).

The appellants have decided to continue their opposition through the courts.

Ontario's Local Planning Appeals Tribunal (LPAT) reconvened on the Kingsway Entertainment District for final oral arguments on all issues on Sept. 17. 

The City of Greater Sudbury was defending its planning process with the Kingsway Entertainment District (KED), following an earlier victory in Superior Court.
Gordon Petch, the lawyer for Tom Fortin, one of the appellants, said they plan to appeal the Superior Court decision.

Based on that, LPAT vice-chair David Lanthier decided to reserve his decision following a full day of arguments from both sides. 

The hearing involved no introduction of new evidence, no witnesses gave testimony, and no cross examination took place. 

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Fortin of Casino Free Sudbury maintains the city was biased when it approved the Kingsway site in April 2018 and that the KED site was not properly rezoned. 

The Superior Court ruled against Fortin's application to quash four bylaws related to the KED.

Also appealing the KED project is the Downtown BIA, as well as a group led by Christopher Duncanson-Hales, and resident Steve May.

Duncanson-Hales is joining the appeal of the Official Plan amendment to permit the casino, as well as the appeal of the rezoning required to permit the casino.

Finally, another activist, May, has joined the appeal of the rezoning to permit a public arena.

Petch said in his submissions his clients represent small business owners in the downtown who would be adversely affected by building the KED on the outskirts of the city. 

He said there is an incredible amount of long-term involvement with the downtown from the community. Many people have invested time, money and demonstrated their commitment to this issue and its effect on the downtown, he said.

Steve Watt, the lawyer for the City of Greater Sudbury, said the appellants have failed to point to any specific area where the city contravened any of the bylaws, and there is no clear conflict with any of the policies.

He said the Superior Court concluded the bylaws permit development outside of the downtown area, and that the applicants have failed to persuade the judge of any of their claims, and that the tribunal should rely on those findings in its decision.

“It’s a pretty straightforward set of bylaws,” Watt said. 

Lanthier said he will take some time to decide whether he will deliver his decision following the intended appeal of the Superior Court ruling.

Fortin, a Sudbury businessman was unsuccessful in Superior Court in attempting to quash four bylaws related to the arena project.  His lawyer, Petch, argued on June 29 during a two-day hearing that city council acted in bad faith and was not transparent in their decision to approve the Kingsway Entertainment District.

The Kingsway Entertainment District is a proposed $100-million arena and event centre development on a 69-hectare lot on the east end of the city. 

The 6,500-seat arena would be the city's main arena to house the local Ontario Hockey League franchise with added restaurants, a hotel and a casino. The arena would replace the Sudbury Community Arena opened in 1951.

- with files from Arron Pickard