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Construction of Place des Arts to begin Oct. 23

The $30M centre arts and cultural centre will be built in downtown Sudbury
Construction of the $30 million Place des Arts will begin Oct. 23 in downtown Sudbury, the group said in an announcement Monday. (File)

Construction of the $30-million Place des Arts cultural centre will begin Oct. 23 in downtown Sudbury, the group said in an Oct. 15 announcement.

The project received its building permit from the city, meaning construction can begin.

“Since the end of the summer, our architects and the entire Place des Arts team have been working closely with the City of Sudbury’s Building Services Division to obtain our building permit,” Stéphane Gauthier, president of Place des Arts, is quoted as saying in a news release.

“It was a race against the clock to get work started on the site before soil freeze-up. So, this is an excellent news for us.”

The venue is expected to host more than 800 events in its first year, and will not only be used by francophone organizations, but will be available to other performers and organizations in the city, regardless of their language or culture.

The 60,000-square-foot building will include a bar and restaurant area with a capacity of 100 people ideal for performances by local artists, a smaller “black box” theatre with 150 seats and a larger theatre with 300 seats.

There will also be shops for creating theatre costumes and props, artists' studios, administrative space and perhaps even a francophone daycare. Construction is expected to last until 2020.

Local firm Bélanger Construction was selected to lead the first phase of construction, the release said, and work will begin on Oct. 23. A downtown parking lot will become a permanent construction site on that day.

“The city is working to inform users of the parking lot that it will be closed in a week from now,” Gauthier said in the release.

“Our team got a head start during the summer with an information campaign for downtown store and business owners. Nearby businesses have all had the opportunity to learn more about the project’s schedule and the nature of the work that was imminent. Now, the next step is shovels in the ground.” 

The federal government has provided $12.5 million, the province $8.25 million, and the city $5 million, with fundraising by the group expected to cover the remainder of the cost. Greater Sudbury is also expected to provide at least $200,000 a year in operating funds.

The first phase of the work will be to prepare the ground for construction. This will require excavating contaminated soil and backfilling with reinforced and engineered soils. The second phase will be the actual construction of the building, beginning as soon as possible in early spring and continuing in 2020.

Place des Arts will be Northern Ontario’s first multidisciplinary arts and culture centre, the release said. It will be home to eight cultural organizations and is expected to host 850 events in its first year and generate 50,000 admissions. The estimated economic effects of construction are $18.7 million, with the creation of 180 jobs.

When complete, Place des Arts will house Carrefour francophone de Sudbury, Centre franco-ontarien de folklore, Théâtre du Nouvel-Ontario, La Nuit sur l'étang, Éditions Prise de parole, Galerie du Nouvel-Ontario, Salon du livre du Grand Sudbury, and Laurentian University's francophone theatre arts program.

The facility is the first of the big projects supported by city council this term to begin construction. The Kingsway Entertainment District – a new $100-million arena, $60-million casino and hotel – is mired in a legal fight at the province's Local Planning Appeals Tribunal, with a first hearing set for Nov. 6. 

The Junction – which includes a new art gallery, library and convention centre – is to be built on the site of the former arena. However, city council has yet to formally commit to building the roughly $100 million project.

It will be something for the incoming city council to decide after the Oct. 22 municipal election.