KED Cleared To Proceed–But New Reality Looms
Since all remaining appeals against Sudbury’s controversial Kingsway Entertainment District (KED) development were finally dismissed late last year, the development is now legally free to proceed as planned. The development passed the final hurdle when on Dec. 23 the Ontario Local Planning Appeal Tribunal gave the project the long-awaited go-ahead.
The tribunal as part of its decision ruled that the appellants had largely failed to establish (or prove) any sort of inconsistency as far as the project’s planning policy or the city’s own plans were concerned. The tribunal delivered its ruling after the Superior Court dismissed the legal appeal in September last year.
Once complete, the $100 million project is expected to consist of an arena, hotel, and casino.
Two Opposing Points Of View
According to Sudbury City councillor Robert Kirwan, who has vocally supported the development all throughout, the project will go ahead as originally planned, being a joint endeavour among three different partners. Kirwan said that despite definite challenges – most notably in terms of the development of the casino by Gateway Casinos & Entertainment – none of the partners are even as much as considering proceeding independently from the others. All three remain fully intent on coming forward, said Kirwan.
City councillor Geoff McCausland is however not convinced. According to McCausland, the hotel development partner, developer Dario Zulich, has not yet put to table either a proposed hotel partner name or an actual agreement. The councillor furthermore also expressed doubts regarding Gateway Casinos’ capacity to proceed with the development of the casino. The privately-owned operator not too long ago had to rely on a $200 million loan from government in order to keep its doors open and its workers employed.
The worry right now is that the city might become liable in the event of any one of the three partners pulling out of the development, said McCausland.
New Reality – New Challenges
Even if the project were to go ahead without major future hiccups, the delayed timelines that continue to haunt the development pose a real risk of the arena only opening several years from now. As a result, what “happens next” remains up for debate.
Though McCausland says the city now has a $100 million burning holes in its pockets, the real conundrum to be figured out right now is whether the development is really the best way to be going about spending such a massive amount of money – especially given the all-new reality.
Sudbury City Council has confirmed that it is currently awaiting further updates from the relevant KED partners and developers.