The debate over a new Sudbury arena and casino is set to be brought to a provincial tribunal. Today, the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal (LPAT) is scheduled to meet with the two parties of the argument for the first time.
The Tribunal is to see representatives of the City of Greater Sudbury, which approved the plans for the new arena and casino venue earlier in 2018, Dario Zulich, a local developer who applied for the project, as well as five groups which took the project to appeal to the provincial authority which took over the responsibilities of the Ontario Municipal Board earlier in 2018.
The project of the new Sudbury arena and casino facility has been brought to appeal from five groups which have protested against the project, including Steve May, a Sudbury planner and activist, Tom Fortin, one of the anti-casino advocates in the region, the downtown business improvement association, Christopher Duncanson-Hales, a representative of 36 faith leaders in the city of Greater Sudbury, and the Minnow Lake Restoration Group.
The meeting today is set to be only a preliminary one and no actual resolution to the argument is expected. As a matter of fact, the final decision on the matter is most likely to be made sometime in 2019, as the piece of legislation under which the LPAT was established gives a period of 10 months to the Tribunal to respond to such an appeal. Having this in mind, the deadline for the Sudbury arena and casino project will be in June 2019.
LPAT to Review Consistency of City Council’s Decision
Despite the fact that the appeal is to be brought to the LPAT, it would not be the one which is to make the final decision on the project. In case that the tribunal dismisses the anti-casino groups’ appeals, the decision of the City Council will be back on track once again, and the Kingsway Entertainment District will be allowed to proceed with the construction works.
However, in case that the LPAT greenlights the appeals, the matter will be brought back to Greater Sudbury City Council once again. If this happens, both parties of the debate will still be given the chance to ask for a judicial review of the decision to be made by a competent court.
Unlike the process in the Ontario Municipal Board, the preliminary hearing at the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal will not be held like a criminal trial, as it was before. Now, only the tribunal panel will have the right to call and hear the witnesses. In addition, the LPAT will focus on the decision of the city council to find out whether or not it has been consistent with some concerns about the possible impact it may have on the environment or on the traffic of the region. The Tribunal is set to find out whether or not Greater Sudbury’s city council followed its own planning rules, as set out in the official planning documents and the construction plan.