The casino project in Sudbury is starting to take shape after the city’s planning committee approved the rezoning applications for a casino, an arena and a parking lot this week. Despite the strong opposition by the local business, the Kingsway Entertainment District was given the green light and pending council approval in April, it may open in 2020.
During a public hearing on Wednesday, Greater Sudbury’s planning committee approved the rezoning application filed by developer Dario Zulich. It allows the vacant parcel of land on The Kingsway to be used for building an arena and a parking lot. On Monday, the committee gave thumbs up to the rezoning of land for a casino. The 20-hectare vacant lot, owned by Zulich, can now be used for constructing the Kingsway Entertainment District, which is expected to be a large gambling and entertainment hub that would attract customers from other communities across Ontario.
The decision made by the planning committee, however, was met with objection from different groups, including businessmen and even religious leaders. The majority of those attending the two public hearings this week spoke against the casino and arena project. On Wednesday, representatives of the Sudbury Business Improvement Association told city councillors the rezoning approval was riddled with “errors of law” and that before sanctioning it, they should have explored whether the project would be profitable and feasible or not.
Other opponents of the Kingsway Entertainment District said that the plans are going forward without Zulich has prepared essential documents. According to some speakers, city councillors should have required an environmental assessment for the project and a study of the economic impact of the casino and arena on the local community. The impact on the downtown would be devastating, Rowan Faludi of urbanMetrics says, explaining that the new complex would be a competition for the only retail industry left in Downtown Sudbury, entertainment. Still, many believe the casino would be beneficial to the city and its residents.
When Will the New Casino Open?
Sudbury’s planning committee approved the rezoning amendments to the city’s Official Plan, which is still not in effect. City councillors will ratify or reject the committee’s decisions at a meeting scheduled for April 10. If approved, the casino project will need more permits from the municipality. In addition, it may be appealed before Ontario’s new Local Planning Appeals Tribunals, which would further delay the construction work.
Canadian gambling and entertainment giant Gateway Casinos and Entertainment has expressed interest in building the casino on the Kingsway. It is currently operating a harness racing track and a Slots Parlor at Sudbury Downs and if constructed, the new casino would replace the old slots venue. Gateway is proposing a large casino that would be developed on more than 6 hectares of land and along with the gaming floor, it would have several restaurants.
It would take an investment of around $60 million, but according to the company, it would be a profitable move. In addition, it would create around 250 jobs in the area and together with the arena, it would contribute significantly to the local economy and city coffers. Developer Dario Zulich believes the casino could be built by 2020.