Thursday, September 17, saw the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal sit through a whole day of hearings to be able to come to a final conclusion regarding the Kingsway Entertainment District. However, the KED’s fate remains undecided with an ultimate decision still to be taken in the coming months.
After a pause of nearly nine months, the Local Planning Appeals Tribunal reconvened to hear and discuss the appeals filed against Kingsway Entertainment District, an entertainment zone planned to be built in Greater Sudbury. Two days, September 17 and September 18, were allocated for the hearing. However, all final arguments were successfully wrapped up on September 17.
The LPAT was set up in 2018 as a replacement of the Ontario Municipal Board, and deals with cases linked to heritage conservation and land use matters. Its role is to evaluate cases which are already in progress and decisions taken on these cases, and does not start any adjudicative process itself. As soon as it was set up, 28 appeals were immediately filed against Kingsway Entertainment District, with activists, professors, businessmen and residents wanting to bring the project to a permanent stop. Six of those appeals were dismissed last summer.
The KED development is mired in controversy as the other side of the coin shows people who support the project as strongly as those who oppose it. KED is a CA$100,000,000 development of an entertainment zone which will be paid from taxpayers’ money and take up land on the one hand, but also inject the local economy with huge revenues and job opportunities on the other. This hearing was of great importance as it heard all the appeals against the project.
The hearing was originally planned for May 5, but due to the global pandemic, had to be postponed for later on in the year. The day chosen was September 17, with September 18 also blocked off in case a day was not enough for the appellants and the defendants to have their say. As it turned out, one day was enough and there were no hearings on Friday, September 18. This was in part due to no new witnesses and testimonies having been brought forward by the two parties.
Opposing the project are Casino Free Sudbury’s Tom Fortin, Laurentian University professor Duncanson-Hales, activist Steve May, and the Downtown Sudbury Business Improvement Association, represented by lawyer Gordon Petch. Lawyer Petch had filed evidence against the City of Greater Sudbury suggesting that it had shown bias in its ruling in favour of the special zone project. However, the Superior Court ruled that there was no proof of bias in the City’s approval of the KED. The opponents are not happy with the Superior Court’s ruling and Petch stated that he will appeal the sentence on their behalf, as they have all been opposing the KED from the very beginning. As reasons for their opposition, lawyer Petch stated the deleterious impact the development will have on the downtown.
Lawyer Steve Watt represented the City of Greater Sudbury, who is supporting this project along with Gateway Casinos and Entertainment. Gateway Casinos will manage part of the casino complex with a CA$60-million venue that will come under the Starlight brand if the entertainment district is approved. David Zulich, the man behind the Sudbury Wolves, is also involved and a staunch supporter of the project, saying “it’s now time for us all to put this behind us and work together to grow Greater Sudbury.”
After a whole day of hearings, the Vice-Chair of the LPAT, David Lanthier, still did not give a final decision, as he stated that it would be prudent to wait for Mr Petch to first file the appeal against the Superior Court’s ruling. However, he did say that he would start “crafting a decision immediately”, with the decision being made public in a few weeks or months.