Robert Kirwan, Greater Sudbury Ward 5 councillor, revealed fresh information to the public last week regarding the circulating online petition asking for a binding referendum on the proposed arena center. This is because the project’s final approval has already been granted by the city council, and the matter will not be included as a referendum.

The online petition requests a referendum during the municipal elections in 2022 to inquire public opinion on the newly proposed event center. The referendum would have asked locals whether they prefer the construction of a brand-new one event center in the Kingsway Entertainment District or the renovation of the existing arena.

No Referendum

Councillor Kirwan quickly clarified that the petition will not be submitted to a referendum vote. He added that, first of all, a referendum is held only when the city council requires assistance in making a major decision. In this case, the decision has already been made, and the new arena will be built at the KED location.

Ian Wood, the executive director of Communications, Strategic Initiatives, and Citizen Service, was given permission by the council on July 14, 2021, to work with Gateway Casinos, the Hotel Group, and the land developer. This was done to assure that the new KED arena would be operational by the end of the summer of 2024. The site preparations should begin before the end of the current year.

Mr. Kirwan believes that when the council has made its decision on whether or not to move forward with the project, there would be no desire to consider a referendum. He further stated that if the council had chosen a referendum, no petition would have been required. During the four years of discussions, any council member could have proposed a referendum motion.

However, no council member has proposed a motion to have a referendum to discuss the issue, and if it was to be held, it would have happened before the final decision. Mr. Kirwan concluded by stating that the petition has little to no chance of reaching a referendum or being supported by the city council due to the mentioned reasons.

Online Petition

The virtual petition for the future of the new entertainment arena was launched by Patrick Crowe, who has been a major opponent of the project. The petition aimed to be included in a referendum for the municipal elections in 2022. Over 700 Sudbury locals have already signed the online petition in support of renovating the downtown Sudbury Community Arena.

Mayor Support

Mayor of Greater Sudbury Brian Bigger had previously provided a good update on the new arena in June. He declared that the city council’s decision to build the arena in the Kingsway Entertainment District is official, and that construction has begun. According to the mayor, councilors have not opposed to the vote since 2017, and Ian Wood, executive director of strategic initiatives, communications, and citizen services, can now lay the foundation with the partners.